Historic Cape San Blas Lighthouse Threatened by the Sea

By: Kavontae Smalls Email
By: Kavontae Smalls Email

For 127 years, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse has overlooked the Gulf from a distance, but unless something is done to keep the two separated, the lighthouse likely will wind up in the water like its predecessors.

Cape San Blas
With each crashing wave washing upon the shore, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse inches closer to the sea.

“We are living on borrowed time out here, that is why we got to record the history now. The children of tomorrow are going to look at us and say, ‘Where’s Cape San Blas Lighthouse?’ or ‘What is a lighthouse?” said Beverly Dowds, Lighthouse Historian.

There have been several reincarnations of the lighthouse, but all of them except for one were destroyed by the endless battering of the Gulf. The last standing lighthouse was erected in 1885, and it still stands today with its original Fresnel lens and clockworks intact.

In 2011, over 11,000 people visited the gift shop. Over 4,300 people climbed the 131 steps of the lighthouse to a height of 101 feet. The remote lighthouse has become an attraction, and local officials and the historical society want to capitalize on the opportunity, but they realize they are on borrowed time.

At the rate in which the Gulf is eating away at the shoreline, within the next few months, these waves could easily be crashing at the footsteps of the lighthouse.

“We are going to save our lighthouse, and we’re going to do whatever it takes, we are going to save our lighthouse” said Mel Magidson, Port St. Joe Mayor.

The lighthouse is on property that belongs to the U.S. Air Force and is leased to Gulf County. Now instead of continuing to move the lighthouse and adjacent buildings away from the Gulf every few years, the parties involved are looking for calmer waters.

“A safe area where it would be along the coast but not subject to the erosion that it is in Cape San Blas” said Magidson.

“I sit here and watch it everyday, and now we’re seventy feet from the beach to the door steps” said Dowds.

Once overlooking the Gulf, now beneath the waves lay the dozens of trees that once lined the shoreline. Broken pieces of pavement that was once the road are now covered in saltwater. The trees, broken pavement and pilings are examples of what will happen to the Cape San Blas lighthouse unless its supporters steer it further inland, like it has done for hundreds of vessels for over a hundred years.

The Port St. Joseph Historical Society has opened an account with Cadence Bank to receive contributions to help fund the relocation of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse.

You can send donations to:
231 St. Joseph Society Inc.
Port St. Joe, Florida 32457

For more information, contact Port St. Joe City Hall at (850) 229-8261 or Historical Society (850) 229-1151.

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  • by Joe Location: Tallahassee on May 30, 2012 at 08:24 PM
    When I was there last weekend the woman in the gift shop said the erosion was caused by the rocks piled to protect the highway to the north. Anytime you fortify a beach you just shift the problem somewhere else. Capes and barrier islands always move.
  • by Joey Flint Location: Bay Co. Fl. on May 14, 2012 at 12:55 AM
    I have been going to the cape for over 45 years and I have seen the cape washing away over the years. I know that the reason the cape is washing away because of the damming of the river. I also know that moving the light house again is not the way to go. Stop the beach from washing away. Use beach rebuilding, use rocks, use some of the tax money and grants to solvethe problem. In other words the light house is NOT the only thing being destroyed. SAVE CAPE SAN BLAS . Thank You !!!
  • by Timothy Location: lighthouse on May 3, 2012 at 01:31 PM
    I'd like to know what lighthouse structure Richard is talking about. E-Mail me a photo to Timh@lhdigest.com to show me the structure you are talking about.
  • by Anonymous Location: pc on May 2, 2012 at 07:34 AM
    Who waits until months before something is close to being destroyed. Since it is a historical structure it will not be able to be moved quickly.
  • by Richard Location: Panama City on May 2, 2012 at 05:03 AM
    That is NOT the lighthose..the real one is an oldstyle structure that sits back near the houses. This was it's modern replacement. I used to work on the Cape and have been to the top of the old one so I know they got this wrong!
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