Built in 1842, the St. Marks Lighthouse played a pivotal role during the Civil War, when the Union Blockading Squadron was actively attempting to prevent shipping and saltmaking along the coast of Florida. Despite its light being quenched during the war, it remains a working lighthouse marking the location of the St. Marks River.
Location: St. Marks
Lat-Lon: 30.074232, -84.180170
Fees: $5 cars and motorcycles, $1 bicycles and pedestrians. $15 annual pass.
Open: sunrise to sunset
The lighthouse is located at the end of Lighthouse Road in St. Marks NWR, south of US 98
During the war, Confederates removed the Fresnel lens and hid it the salt marsh to make the lighthouse useless by night. It remained quite visible by day, so the Federals used it as a landmark for a landing point to march towards Tallahassee to force Florida to surrender. The invading force was turned back at the Battle of Natural Bridge.
Lightkeepers and their families lived inside the lightkeeper’s home attached to the lighthouse until 1960, when the Coast Guard automated the beacon. The lighthouse is only open for tours several times annually, including on Florida Lighthouse Day and other special events at the refuge.
An unmarked trail leads behind the lighthouse and is accessible at low tide. It follows a peninsula with a small but very pretty beach and views back towards towards the lighthouse and into the marshes.