Gasparilla Island Lights

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Port Boca Grande Light
Gasparilla Island SP lighthouse02.jpg
The Port Boca Grande Light has been restored and is now a museum.
Location south tip of Gasparilla Island, on the Boca Grande Pass
Coordinates 26°43′02″N 82°15′39″W / 26.71722°N 82.26083°W / 26.71722; -82.26083
Year first constructed 2019
Year first lit 1890
Automated 1956
Deactivated 1966, reactivated 1986
Foundation iron screw piles
Construction wood frame
Tower shape octagonal lantern at roof peak of a square house
Height 44 feet (13 m)
Original lens three and a half order Fresnel lens
Characteristic white light flashes every 20 seconds
Port Boca Grande Lighthouse
Gasparilla Island Lights is located in Florida
Gasparilla Island Lights
Location Gasparilla Island
Coordinates 26°43′2″N 82°15′39″W / 26.71722°N 82.26083°W / 26.71722; -82.26083Coordinates: 26°43′2″N 82°15′39″W / 26.71722°N 82.26083°W / 26.71722; -82.26083
Governing body Lee County
NRHP Reference # 80000953
Added to NRHP February 28, 1980
Gasparilla Island Light
Gasparillalhrear.jpg
The Gasparilla Island Rear Range Light was first lit in 1932.
Location 2 miles north of Port Boca Grande Light
Coordinates 26°44′31″N 82°15′48″W / 26.74194°N 82.26333°W / 26.74194; -82.26333
Year first lit 1932
Automated 1956
Foundation iron steel piles
Construction wrought iron
Tower shape skeletal tower
Height 105 feet (32 m)
Original lens fourth order Fresnel lens

The Gasparilla Island Lights are on Gasparilla Island in Boca Grande, Florida. The Port Boca Grande Light is on the south tip of Gasparilla Island, and marked the Boca Grande Pass entrance to Charlotte Harbor. It has also been known as the Gasparilla Island Light and the Boca Grande Light. The Gasparilla Island Light is 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the first lighthouse. It has also been known as the Boca Grande Light and the Boca Grande Light Rear Range.

Port Boca Grande Light[edit]

Port Boca Grande Light was first lit on December 31, 1890. It is a two-story frame dwelling raised on iron screw-piles, with the lantern placed in a cupola at the peak of the roof. The keeper lived in the lighthouse. A similar house (without a lantern) built next to it was the assistant keeper's dwelling.

The Port Boca Grande Light originally served ships transporting cattle from ports on Charlotte Harbor to Cuba. Phosphate ore from the Peace River area became an important cargo in the 1890s, and the construction of the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway to Port Boca Grande in 1909 resulted in increased traffic. Ship traffic to Port Boca Grande peaked at more than 30 ships a day during World War II, when Port Boca Grande served as a safe harbor for shipping in the Gulf.

Gasparilla Island Lighthouse, U.S. Coast Guard Archive
Gasparilla Island Rear Range Light, U.S. Coast Guard Archive

The Gasparilla Island Light was deactivated in 1966, and abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1969. The buildings quickly deteriorated, and by 1970 beach erosion had exposed the screw-piles supporting the building, with waves breaking under the building at high tide. Two rock groins were built to protect the lighthouse, and sand was pumped in to build up the beach. Lee County took title of the lighthouse in 1972. On February 28, 1980, the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration work began in 1985, and in 1986 the light was recommissioned.

In 1988 the building and surrounding property were turned over to the State of Florida and became Gasparilla Island State Park. In 1999 the Historic Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum opened to the public.

The light is considered an Aid to Navigation and the lamp room is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg Aids to Navigation Team.

Gasparilla Island Light[edit]

The Gasparilla Island Light was originally constructed in 1885 to serve as the Delaware Breakwater Range Rear Light. Due to erosion, the light was decommissioned in 1918. The tower was disassembled in 1921, and reassembled on Gasparilla Island in 1927. However, the light was not lit until 1932, when it began service as the rear entrance range light for Port Boca Grande, with the front entrance range light approximately one mile off shore in the Gulf of Mexico. When the two lights, which flashed at different rates, lined up, the ships' navigators knew it was time to turn to enter Gasparilla Pass. Though the front range has been removed, the Boca Grande Rear Range Light remains in service today as the Gasparilla Island Light. It is an Aid to Navigation and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg Aids to Navigation Team.

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