Amelia Island Lighthouse
Florida Lighthouse Trail // Along the Buccaneer Trail
Elegant and dignified, the stark white Amelia Island Lighthouse proudly claims its space on the 13-mile-long northernmost barrier island in Florida. For lighthouse enthusiasts checking off a must-visit list of beacons of light, this beauty ranks high because it’s the state’s oldest, built in 1838, and the only one from Florida’s Territorial Period to survive without major rebuilding. However, the lighthouse is just a teaser for history buffs because Amelia Island has a storied past that’s as entertaining as it is educational.
When the French first arrived in 1562, they encountered the Timucuan, Native Americans living in huts made from palm fronds and mud. Huguenot Jean Ribault may have been the first European to set foot on Amelia Island, but Juan Ponce de Leon wasn’t about to let them have it. British General James Oglethorpe named the island “Amelia” after a princess, the daughter of King George II. Perhaps the mosquitoes and alligators were too much for the British because 20 years later, they traded Florida back to Spain.
As you travel on A1A alongside stretches of dunes and glistening sands to the island’s northern end, you’ll find the 67-foot-tall Amelia Island Lighthouse perched on the highest point of the island. Still operational, it’s the westernmost lighthouse on the east coast of the U.S. Its Fresnel lens guides seafarers into the St. Marys River, separating Florida and Georgia, toward Fernandina Harbor. They did not originally build the structure on Amelia Island; it was moved brick by brick from neighboring Cumberland Island in Georgia and reconstructed on this spot.
Tours are offered on the first and third Wednesdays of the month and although visitors enter through the lighthouse, climbing its 69 granite steps is not allowed. On Saturdays, the grounds are open to the public.
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