St. Marks Lighthouse


St. Marks Lighthouse- by refuge volunteer Lou Kellenberger



St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, County Road 59
St. Marks, FL 32355






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Constructed in 1842 to replace an earlier 1831 structure which was threatened by erosion, the St. Marks Lighthouse is located at the mouth of the St. Marks River on Apalachee Bay. After Florida seceded from the Union in January 1861, the Confederates continued to operate the lighthouse until mid-1861, when authorities determined that it could not be secured against the Union navy, and removed the lens for safekeeping. In June 1861, Confederate forces erected a small artillery battery about 50 yards from the lighthouse which they named Fort Williams, and used the lighthouse for lookout purposes. In June 1862, Union navy ships shelled the lighthouse and sent ashore a landing party, which destroyed the evacuated Fort Williams and burned the lighthouse keeper’s quarters. No casualties were reported for either side. In July 1863, the Union navy shelled the lighthouse again, and a landing party set fire to the wooden stairs of the lighthouse to prevent it from being used as a lookout post. In March 1865, approximately 1,000 Union troops landed in the vicinity of the lighthouse for an expedition against Newport, St. Marks and Fort Ward, which culminated in the Battle of Natural Bridge. After being repulsed by the Confederate forces, the Union troops retreated back to the lighthouse area where they reboarded their transport vessels. The lighthouse was relit with a new fourth-order Fresnel lens in January 1867.