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An Inside Look at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

Chances are if you’ve been on a boat, or even gone to the beach, then you’ve seen a lighthouse. Have you ever been inside one or learned the history behind it?  The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, located in Jupiter, Florida, is not only an active lighthouse or an attraction for those in the area, but it also has a deep, historical significance. 

One of the most interesting facts about the lighthouse is that the site has shown signs of habitation dating to 5,000 years ago. According to Kathleen Glover, the Assistant Director of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, people had been attracted to this inlet for centuries before the lighthouse was even constructed. “It is one of the most ancient spots along the coastline,” says Glover. Occupied by ancient Native Americans, the inlet was a hotspot way prior to the construction of the Lighthouse.  Perhaps they were captivated by the inlet’s beauty. 

Set atop a natural 48-foot dune, the lighthouse offers a panoramic view of aqua water spilling into the inlet. Due to treacherous reefs that are especially dangerous along the coastline, this spot was perfect for the lighthouse that was necessary to help guide merchant ships.  The site was chosen in 1853, and the lighthouse was first lit in 1860. “We found out that Robert E. Lee was part of the scouting team with the army corps of engineers when looking along the coast to place lighthouses,” says Glover. The principal designer of the lighthouse was United States Army General and civil engineer, George Gordon Meade, who actually defeated Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg—the lighthouse provides an interesting connection between the two generals.

Visitors can take tours of the lighthouse and climb the 105 steps to the top to experience the magnificent views. Not far from the lighthouse is the museum. The museum features artifacts from the inlet from shipwrecks and other historical events. “There is a wide variety of history here all the way up through World War 2 in regards to the site,” explains Glover, “During WWII, the Navy had set up a secret radio station here to listen in on German submarines, the station was called Station J. Station J was very key and pivotal in stopping the Germans attacking supply ships.”

Another exhibit at the museum is called “5000 Years on the Loxahatchee” which takes guests chronologically from ancient Native American times up to WWII. A brand new exhibit is located next to the lighthouse in the Keeper’s Workshop. Guests who prefer not to climb the lighthouse can get a glimpse into what it’s like to be at the top, without climbing.

Lighthouse and Museum tours are offered by the Historical Society every day in season from January to April, and Tuesday to Sunday from May through December. Plan to spend 1 ½ hours to 2 hours if you take the grounds tour as well as the museum tour. The grounds behind the museum are perfect for a picnic lunch and there are hiking tours on the north side for those interested in checking out the flora and fauna.

- By Ettractions Digital Content Editor PAULA MARINO   

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