After being virtually destroyed by Hurricane Georges, Pascagoula, Mississippi’s 1859 Round Island Lighthouse has risen from ruin to stand again.
When Lighthouse Digest placed the Round Island Lighthouse on its Doomsday List of Endangered American lighthouses in December of 1996, it was still believed, in spite of numerous past erosion controls installed at the lighthouse that had failed, that the lighthouse could still be saved at its location where it was built in Pascagoula Harbor. But the tower that had withstood numerous violent storms and previous hurricanes during its 140 years, now suffering from deterioration and the erosion of its base, could no longer stand against the forces of Mother Nature and down it came.
When the lighthouse was toppled by the hurricane on September 27, 1998, leaving only a small section of the lower base still standing and the rest of the tower’s bricks strewn all about, most people thought it was the end of the lighthouse. However, the people of Pascagoula, led by the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society and public officials of the City of Pascagoula, have proved them wrong by their tenacity to have the symbol of their city rebuilt - and rebuilt stronger than ever.
This required the foresight to carry through with the long and complicated process of gathering as many of the original bricks as possible and then moving them and the remaining base of the tower, first by barge and then on a flatbed trailer, to a new location and formulate the plan on exactly how to rebuilt it, as well as raise the money to complete the project. Additionally, the 6000 pound lantern room that was heavily damaged had to be relocated to where it could be restored, then moved to the new location of the lighthouse and finally be hoisted to the top of the reconstructed tower.
Over the past 15 years we have published several stories on the loss and subsequent, slow but steady, efforts to rebuild the lighthouse. Now that, for all practical purposes, it has been rebuilt, we are recapping the story from its demise to its current status of completion.
The people of Pascagoula, Mississippi are to be commended for saving the Round Island Lighthouse, a project that is worthy of being called the Mississippi Miracle. It is something they can all be proud of, especially when tourists come to view the lighthouse that rose from the depths of destruction and ruin to the mighty structure that it is today: a legacy to the people who saved it and a historic icon to those who came before us.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2013 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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