Roger Bansemer

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Information and illustrations about  Jupiter Inlet lighthouse by artist & author Roger Bansemer.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
Jupiter, Florida

Jupiter Inlet lighthouse print

 Jupiter Inlet lighthouse by artist & author Roger Bansemer.

Jupiter Inlet lighthouse print
Original painting also available

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 man’s loss became another man’s 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. That’s how the assistant keeper’s 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, Jupiter’s brick tower was reported to have swayed seventeen inches. I don’t 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, that’s 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.

İRoger Bansemer

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse