History Visit Us Support Us Tours News & Events Teachers Kids
Printer Friendly Version

History of the Ponce Inlet Light Station

Mosquito Inlet

When the first Spanish explorers came to the inlet in 1513, the Native Americans were already there. The Indians were using the area as a fishing camp and hunting ground. The Spanish called the area Los Mosquitoes. Can you guess why?

In 1774, the British put the very first lighthouse on the north side of the Inlet. It wasn't really a lighthouse at all! It was simply a huge bonfire that was kept burning on top of a sand dune.

A real lighthouse was built in 1835 on the south side of Mosquito Inlet. This was a round tower made of bricks, and it stood 45 feet tall. Amazingly, the lamp was never lit! Why? The governor never ordered any fuel oil for the light! Next, a storm came and damaged the foundation. Then the Seminole Indians raided it and tried to burn the tower. Finally, in April of 1836, the lighthouse toppled over into the sea. This lighthouse lasted only a year and was never even lit!


Ponce De Leon Inlet

The present light station was completed on the north side of the inlet in 1887. The new tower had lamp at the top that was fueled by kerosene. This little light could be seen for more than 18 miles out in the ocean because it was magnified by a special Fresnel (pronounced Fra-NEL) lens.

The light station also had three houses for the lighthouse keepers and their families, as well as an oil storage building and other small buildings. This light station still stands today! The inlet's name has been changed from Mosquito Inlet to Ponce De Leon Inlet. Do you think this was a good idea?

The Ponce De Leon Inlet Light Station is the finest and most complete historic light station in the United States. All of the original buildings are still here. The light station is over 115 years old.
Lighthouse Facts:
  • The tower is 175 feet tall
  • It is the tallest lighthouse in Florida
  • There are 213 steps to the top of the tower
  • The tower beacon flashes six times in 15 seconds followed by a 15 second eclipse
  • The light from the beacon can be seen up to 18 miles out to sea
  • Approximately 2.5 million bricks were used to build the Light Station
  • The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is one of only 12 lighthouses in the country to have been designated a National Historic Landmark
  • The Lighthouse celebrated its 125 Anniversary as an active lighthouse on November 1, 2012

Written by Alice Morton, Pine Trails Elementary School, Ormond Beach, FL.