illustrations about Anclote Key lighthouse by artist & author Roger Bansemer.
Anclote Key Lighthouse
This painting titled "First Light" was done as a commemorative piece for the
relighting of the Anclote Key Lighthouse
and is available to the right collector. 3'x6'
The Anclote Key lighthouse after being dark for 20 years, suffering
vandalism, the Anclote Key lighthouse was finally restored and re-lit in Sept.
13, 2003 thanks to efforts of the Gulf Islands Alliance Citizen Support Organization, the Tarpon Springs Historical Society,
along with state and federal grants with over a million dollars raised for the
eight month long project. Now there are two keeper's houses on the island, one
serving as home to a state park ranger who can protect and maintain the
lighthouse property. Visitors are welcome to visit the island, the lighthouse,
and enjoy the beach.
A crew of six men from the International Chimney Co, the same company that moved
the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, Sandblasted
lighthouse core and supports and the spiral staircase winding up its core then
repaired and replaced many damaged and rusted parts. The lantern room atop the
lighthouse was dismantled, taken to ground level and beautifully restored. A new
Fresnal lens has also been installed.
The relighting ceremony and concert of the Anclote Key lighthouse took place at
Sunset Beach Park in Tarpon Springs and featured singer/songwriter Bertie
Hours of Operation
Florida state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.
Anclote Key State Preserve is located three miles off Tarpon Springs and is
accessible only by private boat.
Admission is Free
Primitive camping is available. Camping is free but before you go you must call
727-469-5942 and check in. Have your boat registration number, number of
campers, arrival and departure dates and a contact phone number in the event of
Key Preserve State Park, # 1 Causeway Blvd.
Dunedin, Florida 34698
Phone: 727-469-5942 /
Park Manager: Scott Robinson
The Anclote Village Marina is offering pontoon boat rentals
to the island. It's a great way to spend the day on the beautiful beaches there
and see the lighthouse. Visit
http://www.anclotevillagemarina.com/ for more information about the rentals.
Cast iron was used as a building material for lighthouses instead of steel for several
reasons. Steel, an alloy made from iron and carbon, wasnt produced in large
quantities until the 1850s and was more expensive than cast iron. Steel is much stronger
than cast iron and is not brittle, but it lacks one major advantage of cast iron: Iron
weathers better than steel. Cast iron, or iron, is a single element and doesnt allow
for water molecules to replace any of other molecules, as happens with an alloy. For that
reason, water cant permeate it molecule by molecule, like it does with steel;
basically, rust stops at the surface. Had lighthouses been made of steel, they would have
long since rusted away.
This type of skeletal lighthouse was developed in the early 1860s for several reasons.
Sandy soil along Floridas coasts made if difficult to build adequate foundations to
support the heavy weight of brick lighthouses. A cast-iron skeletal structure was much
lighter, so its foundation didnt need to be as massive. Additionally, shifting sands
often threatened lighthouses as beaches eroded and shorelines changed. Skeletal
lighthouses could be disassembled and moved since they were bolted together in small
sections. Skeletal structures also cost less to build than brick ones.
Originally, there were two keepers houses and several other outbuildings by the
lighthouse. Four hundred feet of cedar picket fencing painted white surrounded them. Two
above-ground cisterns made of wood supplied the keepers and their families with fresh
water. A 209-foot-long pier extended from the lighthouse; later, another 200 feet of pier
and a boathouse were added. All of that is gone now, but people still enjoy the island for
its lovely beaches, shells, and peaceful atmosphere.
Lighthouse keepers were generally men and women of few words, especially when it came
to filling out their daily logs. It is one reason that details are sketchy about how they
lived. On October 6, 1889, the keeper at the Anclote Key Lighthouse, referring to his
wrote, "Baby was
taken very sick at 5 p.m." The next day he wrote, "Baby boy died this morning at
2:30 oclock. Keeper and wife went over to bury him today." On August 30, 1890,
his log entry read, "Baby born. Keepers wife. Bad weather." If nothing
else, it shows how rugged these people must have been out of sheer necessity.
I grew up and still live in Clearwater, Florida, just a few miles south of Tarpon
Springs and the Anclote Key Lighthouse. Thirty years ago, my parents would sometimes pack
a lunch and take our small boat out to the 180-acre island. There we would spend the day
on the white sand beaches, swimming and collecting shells. Years later, I owned a Hobie
Cat and would sail to the island. The lighthouse was automated in 1952 and was therefore
unmanned and officially closed to the public, but I remember it always being open because
of vandalism. People constantly found a way to tear down the fence and break open the
heavy steel door. I can remember going up to the top of the light and looking at the
small, third-order, pineapple-shaped Fresnel lens, which even then was badly destroyed.
The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1985, and today there is nothing left of the lens.
Even the floor of the lantern room has been broken and cracked from someones beating
it with a sledgehammer. Needless to say, all the windows have been knocked out. People
have even stolen bricks from the old oil house and the many brick walkways for their own
use. Efforts are being made to restore the old lighthouse, but when I did these paintings
nothing had been done. Everything near the lighthouse has become overgrown, been spray
painted, or abused in some way.
The nearby town of Tarpon Springs is a small, active community, its population mainly
of Greek heritage, and is best known for its sponge industry.
Tourism seems to be the predominant industry with 750,000 tourists visiting the old
sponge docks each year. The quaint shops are still full of those early childhood souvenirs
of shell lamps and bins with dried seahorses and sand dollars I use to love as a boy. The
restaurants and bakeries all serve up delicious traditional Greek pastries and although
tourism overshadows industry, Tarpon Springs remains the largest natural sponge market in
the world, with annual revenues over five million dollars. Today all but a few of the
colorful sponge boats are gone, along with their traditional hard hat divers. They have
all been replaced by more ordinary-looking boats with scuba divers. Many shrimp boats now
make Tarpon Springs their home port as well. Instead of using the Anclote Key Lighthouse
to guide their way to the Anclote River and Tarpon Springs, boats now make use of a tall
smokestack with a flashing strobe light from the power plant at the mouth of the river as
a day marker and lighthouse for all practical purposes.
To get more technical information that you will ever need on the Anclote Key
Lighthouse click here.