Rebecca Shoal Light

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Rebecca Shoal Light
The Rebecca Shoal Lighthouse after it was automated, with the lower landing decks removed.
Rebecca Shoal Light is located in Florida
Rebecca Shoal Light
Rebecca Shoal Light is located in the US
Rebecca Shoal Light
Location east of Garden Key, Dry Tortugas
Coordinates 24°34′42″N 82°35′06″W / 24.57833°N 82.58500°W / 24.57833; -82.58500Coordinates: 24°34′42″N 82°35′06″W / 24.57833°N 82.58500°W / 24.57833; -82.58500
Year first lit 1886
Deactivated 1953
Foundation screw-pile
Construction wood structure
Tower shape house on piles
Height 66 feet (20 m)
Original lens fourth order Fresnel lens
Characteristic white flash every 6 s (red sector covers the shoal)

The Rebecca Shoal Light was located on a treacherous coral bank, Rebecca Shoal, 6.2 miles (10 km) west of the Marquesas Keys and 31 miles (50 km) east of the Dry Tortugas. The bank has at least a depth of 11 feet (3.4 m) and is subject to strong currents and rough seas.

The first attempt to place a light on Rebecca Shoal was under the direction of Lt. George Meade starting in 1854. After structures were washed away twice in 1855 while still being erected, Meade wrote, "I believed then, and am satisfied now, that no light-house structure of any kind has been erected, either in this country or in Europe, at a position more exposed and offering greater obstacles than the Rebecca shoal."

A lighthouse was finally successfully erected on Rebecca Shoal in 1886. It was a 1 12-story square house set on high pilings. It was often impossible to land supplies or keepers at the lighthouse during bad weather. The lighthouse survived several hurricanes. The 1919 Florida Keys Hurricane broke the glass in the lighthouse's lantern and damaged the lens. The Spanish steamer Valbanera sank in that same hurricane five miles east of Rebecca Shoal, with the loss of all 488 people aboard.

The lighthouse deteriorated after the light was automated in 1926, and was demolished in 1953. A skeletal tower was erected on the original pilings to hold the light. A new skeletal tower was built on new pilings in 1985, and the old tower and pilings removed. This new tower was destroyed by Hurricane Charley in 2004. The lantern from the old lighthouse eventually ended up mounted on a private lighthouse in Key Largo.


  • Mark Gaze 1886 – 1888
  • James Gardner 1888 – 1889
  • Francis McNulty 1889 – 1890
  • Robert J. Fine 1890 – 1893
  • John Watkins 1893 – 1895
  • William R. Cook 1895 – 1896
  • Charles H. Gardner 1896 – 1900
  • James R. Walker 1900 – 1902
  • Alfred A. Berghell 1902 – 1905)
  • Arthur C.E. Hamblett 1905 – 1907
  • John Peterson 1907 – 1908
  • Arthur C.E. Hamblett 1908 – 1910
  • Thomas M. Kelly 1910 – 1917
  • Clifton H. Lopez 1917
  • William Pierce 1917 – 1919
  • Richard C. Roberts 1919
  • Thomas L. Kelly 1919 – ?
  • Robert V. Hall - at least 1921
  • Alonzo Baker – 1925[1]