Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Historic Hillsboro Lighthouse

Where is the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse?

Florida! Yep, this lighthouse is one of many that grace the Atlantic side of the Florida coast. It sits near the north end of South Florida between the cities of Hillsboro Beach and Pompano Beach. At its feet lies the Hillsboro Inlet (Hillsboro Inlet - Hillsboro Lighthouse - coincidence you think?) a major connection waterway between the Atlantic Ocean and the inter-coastal waterway.

Boats of all shapes, sizes, and types ply these waters - going out to play on the Atlantic or returning after hours of fun to relax within the calmer waters of the inter-coastal canal. Everything from small run-abouts to luxury yachts

Fishermen and tourists also come to the inlet to relax and take in the pretty scene with the Lighthouse on the north shore at the seaward entrance to the inlet. They go to the same park I did on the Pompano side of the inlet near the A1A bridge. It was from there that I took the photos with this article.

Besides providing a reference point, especially at night of course, for the inlet into the quieter waters of the inter-coastal waterway, the lighthouse also marks the northern limit of the Florida reef. This reef, an underwater coral formation, extends south along the coast of Florida.

History of the Hillsboro Lighthouse

This lighthouse was commissioned back in the early 1900’s to provide safe passage for ships and boats navigating the waters off the Atlantic Coast of Florida. Back in 1901 Congress was talked into authorizing the construction of a lighthouse in the area since there was nothing else to mark the place. The area between Jupiter and Miami was one long dark stretch of coast.

A lot of ships hugged the coast in those days to avoid the Gulf Stream which would have pushed them north. If they got too close to shore they could run into the Florida reef or end up in shallow waters and on sandbars. Finally, sometime around 1906 the lighthouse was put into place. Most of it was built in Detroit (that would be in Michigan, USA) and shipped to the site to be erected.

Access to the lighthouse has been blocked by development, as many a Florida treasured beach has been, so the only way to get to the lighthouse is by boat. To tour the lighthouse you need a special invitation from the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society. This society is very active in both preserving the lighthouse and soliciting funds for upkeep and improvements.

The lighthouse and grounds are owned and administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. The cottages which were originally used by the lighthouse keepers are now used as rest and recreation havens for current and retired Coast Guard members and their families.

A Few Facts about the Hillsboro Lighthouse

The lighthouse is 172 feet tall.

It takes 145 steps to reach the top where the light is.

It shoots a flash of light out to sea every 20 seconds.

It has the distinction of having the most powerful beam in the world, shining about 28 miles out to sea.

It is painted in black and white.

It is one of three surviving towers of this design.

In 2003 a U.S. postage stamp was issued using the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse.

More Info

For more information visit these links:

Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society - dedicated to keeping this lighthouse going.

Wikipedia - an information powerhouse?