Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2005

New Lens for Anclote Key

By R. J. Storle


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By BMC R. J. Storle, U.S. Coast Guard

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On the fifteenth of November 2004 an exact replica of a classical fourth order Fresnel lens was installed in the historic Anclote Key, Florida lighthouse. Members of U. S. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team St. Petersburg, the Florida Parks Service and the Gulf Island's Alliance Citizen Support Organization spent fifteen hours over the course of two days on the installation.

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The lens is the culmination of years of effort put forth by countless people that resulted in a massive restoration last year. On September 13th 2003, after twenty years of inactivity and neglect, the Lighthouse was re-lit before an enthusiastic crowd that numbered three to five thousand people. Although the light has been operating for the last year with a modern rotating beacon, supporters of the project knew that they could do better. Through their efforts, funds were raised and Enberg Mold and Tools in Jacksonville, Florida were commissioned to fabricate a replica. The end result is a stunning brass and acrylic six sided lens that fills the lantern and truly adds charm and grace to the lighthouse and allows visitors a chance to step back in time.

The Parks Service has also constructed a permanent residence for Park Ranger Connie Wiesehan. Wiesehan will be the first resident of Anclote Key since the light was automated in the 1960's. This will allow her to continually make improvements to the park and provide a much needed security presence to the lighthouse, which has been plagued with a long history of vandalism.

First lit September 15, 1887, the cast iron skeletal tower provided an impressive 101-foot focal plan and was visible for 16 miles. For the next 98 years the light guided vessels safely into Tarpon Springs, Florida. The aid was disestablished in January 1985 after the Coast Guard determined that the rate of vandalism was so high at this isolated structure that it was not cost feasible to maintain it. Vandals destroyed the original third order lens in the late seventies.

Members of the Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity to work with these groups and lend their expertise to this project, noting that this lighthouse is a significant part of their unit history.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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