Sand Key Lighthouse, between Sand Key Channel and Rock Key Channel, 6 miles southwest of Key West, Florida
Skeleton tower lighthouse built in 1853, automated in 1938.
SAND KEY LIGHT
Location: 7 MILES SOUTHWEST OF KEY WEST, FLORIDA
Station Established: 1826
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1853
Foundation Materials: IRON SCREWPILES W/PLATFORM
Construction Materials: IRON
Tower Shape: SQARE SKELETAL W/CENTRAL COLUMN
Markings/Pattern: RED W/BLACK TRIM
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: FIRST ORDER FRESNEL
- Sand Key is located 7 miles south west of Key West. A 60-foot brick tower was built in 1827 on Sand Key. In 1844 a hurricane hit the island and eroded part of it away. The hurricane also destroyed the keeper’s house and damaged the seawall. It took a year to repair.
- Rebecca Flaherty was keeper for 16 years following the death of her husband in 1830. The Great Havana Hurricane in 1846 eroded the sand so badly around the light; it collapsed, killing Rebecca Flaherty and five others. The Key West Light was also destroyed in the same storm
- A ship named Honey was purchased and turned into a lightship to serve the area while a new lighthouse was built. The new tower was lit in 1853. It is a skeletal tower on screwpiles with a platform for the keeper’s quarters. The open design allowed it to survive many more hurricanes.
- The light was automated in 1938. The first order Fresnel lens was removed in 1967 and replaced with a fourth order lens which was removed in 1982. A flash tube array was installed at that time.
- A fire severely damaged the tower in 1989. The light was moved to a temporary structure. The light was returned to the tower in 1998. The keeper’s quarters were demolished 1996.
- The light is operational and an active aid to navigation. It is not open to the public. The best of the light is by boat or plane, though it can be seen distantly from Key West.
- Joseph Ximenez (1826-1827)
- John R. Flaherty (1827-1830)
- Rebecca Flaherty (1830-?)
- Captain Frederick Neill (? - 1836)
- Captain Francis Watlington (1836-1837)
- Captain Joshua Appleby (1837-1846 - killed)
- Temporary Keeper: Edward Van Evans