Thursday, January 15, 2009

St. Marks Lighthouse - St. Marks, Florida

One of the most beautiful sights on the Florida Gulf Coast is the stunning white tower of the St. Marks Lighthouse rising above the marshes of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Built in 1832 to provide navigational assistance to vessels traveling to and from the ports of St. Marks and Port Leon, the lighthouse has weathered war and hurricanes. It survived a massive hurricane that completely destroyed the town of Port Leon during the 1840s and became a focal point for operations during the Civil War.

Confederate troops darkened the lighthouse in 1861 and soon constructed an artillery battery called Fort Williams near its base. It was realized that the fort was too vulnerable to attack, however, so the guns were removed to St. Marks where Fort Ward was built on top of the ruins of the old Spanish fortress of San Marcos de Apalache.

In March of 1865, the St. Marks Lighthouse was the landing point for a large Union expedition that planned to capture Tallahassee and then push north to Thomasville, Georgia. The campaign was defeated at the Battle of Natural Bridge on March 6, 1865.

Beautifully maintained today, the lighthouse is one of the most popular points of interest at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Thousands of people tour the grounds each year, many coming during annual autumn migration of Monarch butterflies.

To learn more, please visit

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