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American Shoal Lighthouse

July 9, 2019
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American Shoal Lighthouse, Florida

AMERICAN SHOAL LIGHT

Location: FLORIDA KEYS
Station Established: 1880
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1880
Operational: Yes
Automated: Yes, 1963
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: Screw-pile with platform
Construction Materials: Iron
Tower Shape: Skeletal octagonal pyramidal
Height: 109-feet
Markings/Pattern: Brown with white column
Characteristics: White flash every 15 seconds; 2 red sectors
Relationship to Other Structure: Integral
Original Lens: First Order Drum, Fresnel, 1880
Foghorn: None

Historical Information:

  • As early as 1851 plans were made for the erection of a series of great offshore lighthouses to mark the dangerous Florida Reefs. These towers, all of skeleton iron construction, to resist hurricanes, were eventually built one at a time over a period of years, that on American Shoal completed in 1880, being the most recently constructed.  
  • American Shoal was built by a Trenton, New Jersey firm and took only 13 months to fabricate, ship, and erect on site.  The site of the lighthouse was 15 miles to the eastward, on the outermost reefs, and was covered with 4 feet of water. Construction continued for about 2 years, and the tower when completed cost about $94,000. 
  • The lighthouse was first lighted on the night of July 15, 1880.
  • It is an iron structure with a brown disc and screw-pile tower; octagonal and pyramidal in shape, with a central white stairwell. The former keeper’s house is a brown octagonal structure resting on a platform approximately 40 feet above water. American Shoal was originally a 1st order Fresnel lens, producing a flash every 5 seconds.
  • The light is 109 feet above the water, and is visible on a clear night for 16 miles. American Shoal Lighthouse is almost exactly like the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse situated near Miami.  In 1963 the lens was removed with automation and the light is now a solar powered 4th order lens.