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More South Florida Lighthouse

Broward and Monroe Co., FL (April 2009)

Also be sure to see the Travel/Geography Blog

The Lighthouse at Pompano Beach

Hillsboro Light

Lighthouse Locations

The lighthouse at Hillsboro Inlet is a relative newcomer, having been first lit in 1907. This section of coastline sits at the northernmost reach of the Florida Reef and mariners needed sufficient warning when approaching the underwater coral to avoid damaging their vessels. This became readily apparent in the early twentieth century as ship traffic in this area began to pick up.

The shape of the Hillsboro Light is often described as an "octagonal pyramid iron skeletal tower with cylindrical central staircase" with a height of 142 and a focal plane of 132 feet. Light is focused through a second order Fresnel lens to provide sufficient illumination to nearby vessels. Originally the lens rotated on a pool of mercury in a large iron tub. That was replaced by a ball bearing system in a 1999 restoration.

Hillsboro Inlet

Hillsboro Inlet

The light was automated in 1974 and it continues to operate under the authority of the United States Coast Guard through the present. Management is provided by the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society under an agreement with the Coast Guard. This group formed when preservationists realized the lighthouse's lens might be taken out of service to be placed in a museum, and would have altered the site's historic composition.

This is an operational lighthouse so public access is strictly limited. Few people have access to Hillsboro light during much of the year except in an official capacity but the Society is allowed to open the tower to visitors for tours up to four times a year.

Exterior views are allowable anytime though, and there are a couple of great observation points. One spot is the Atlantic beach directly across Hillsboro Inlet. The other is from Pompano Beach's Hillsboro Inlet Park, which appears in the foreground in this photograph. This small park offers a relaxing location to contemplate the scenery, have a picnic at one of the tables, or let the kids enjoy some time on the playground.

Lighthouse off the Florida Keys

Sombrero Key Light

The Sombrero Key Lighthouse sits on a reef that's usually submerged off the coast of Marathon Florida. This is about half way down the length of the Florida Keys. I took this photograph from Sombrero Beach on Key Vaca, several miles away from where the lighthouse is perched on the reef. That explains why the image is blurry.

Sombrero Key actually used to really be a key, not simply one in name only. However it has long since eroded away, leaving behind a dangerous reef lurking just below the surface. Sombrero Key Light began its service to mariners in 1858 and continues to light the way even today although it was automated in 1960. It is composed of cast iron, in the shape of a skeletal octagonal pyramid, rising 142 feet above the water. If you look closely at the photograph you will notice two horizontal bands, one just above the water and another about a third of the way up. These are platforms. The lower one held water and fuel. The upper one held the crew quarters. It must have been a lonely life being stuck on iron pilings and confined to two small floors.

The lighthouse at Sombrero Key once housed a first order Fresnel lens. It now sits in a museum in Key West. I was fortunate enough to visit that museum and you can see the lens on my Key West Lighthouse page.

Readers who have an interest in lighthouses might also want to check my Lighthouse Index page.