Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
Work began on the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in 1854, but there
were many delays. Even though no battles between settlers and Indians occurred here,
because of the horrible Indian attack at the Cape Florida Lighthouse in 1836, any threat
of violence was taken seriously. Work progressed slowly and cautiously.
Shortly after the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse was finished in 1860, it was darkened by the Civil War. It
seems that the Union found this a convenient inlet to unload supplies and munitions, so
the Confederates dismantled part of the illuminating mechanism and hid it in the area of
Lake Worth Creek. This made access to the area at night a little more difficult for Union
soldiers. After the war, the lens was retrieved and reinstalled. By this time, Seminoles
and settlers in the area had made peace with one another and were quite friendly.
Despite the presence of the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse, shipwrecks still occurred offshore. Such was
the case one October day in 1872, when one mans loss became another mans find.
One hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of cargo went overboard. Most of it sank, but
much drifted ashore and ended up in the hands of the Seminole Indians. What remained went
to the few settlers who lived in the area. As one crate began to wash ashore and was about
to be retrieved by one of the Indians, the lighthouse keeper read the markings on the
crate and yelled out in a loud voice, claiming it as his own. Thats how the
assistant keepers wife came to own a brand new Wheeler and Wilson sewing machine, a
useful luxury that she put to use for years.
Entertainment is not what is today and there was little in the form of amusement but an
event sometimes took place on weekends that would always attract the attention of local
residents. but an event sometimes took place on weekends that would always entertain
residents of the lighthouse and nearby towns. The young assistant lighthouse keeper,
Dwight Allen, would gather a crowd and boldly walk on the pitched roof of the
105-foot-high lighthouse. After his onlookers grew to a number he thought sizable enough,
he would end his exhibition by doing a handstand at the very peak of the tower, much to
the delight of his audience and especially the young women he was trying to impress.
The migration of birds was a problem with many Florida lighthouses, especially along
the Atlantic Coast. Wire screens were installed at this light to keep birds from crashing
into the panes of glass. These large migrations seem to be a thing of the past, but the
Jupiter and Cape Canaveral Lighthouses were especially hard hit in previous times. During
the early 1900s, ducks came here in such abundance they would sometimes cover the entire
width of Jupiter Sound. Each morning, buckets full of dead birds would be collected at the
base of the light. Offshore lights still have bird crashes but city lights in general have
reduced the number of hits. Insects were also fierce at Jupiter. Even at the top of the
lighthouse, the bugs were so thick that by morning, they would sometimes have to be
scraped off the glass by the bucketful.
Hurricanes were an always-present danger in the summer months. During the hurricane of
1928, Jupiters brick tower was reported to have swayed seventeen inches. I
dont know who got out there and took that measurement and maybe it just seemed that
way. Nevertheless, brick structures can sway quite a bit.
The original two-story keepers house measured only twenty-six by thirty feet and
housed three families. Sadly, it burned to the ground in 1927 and was never rebuilt.
Not far from the lighthouse is a natural feature in the landscape, called Blowing Rocks
Preserve, thats fun to visit. If you get there during high tide when there is a good
surf, the water sprays up to fifty feet skyward through "blow holes" that have
been formed in the Anastasia limestone along the shore.
The lighthouse is open to the public Sunday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Florida History Center and Museum and the historic DuBois home are also close by.
There are several parks across from the lighthouse on the other side of Jupiter Sound.
DuBois Park is a nice place to view the lighthouse and do some fishing. Carlin Park is
farther out towards the Atlantic and has sandy beaches and dunes.