The Retirees in south east USA – Daytona Beach to Ponce De Leon Inlet

Having travelled north to St Augustine, the following day we travelled south to Ponce De Leon Inlet. Driving the length of the island was unremarkable. Resorts and beach house accommodation lined the route. It was not until arriving at Ponce De Leon Inlet that the scenery changed to some beach type scrub with roads winding through it. Despite being the highest lighthouse in Florida the lighthouse was not visible due to the other structures obscuring it. As it hove into view, we were impressed with the lighthouse and the facilities preserved around it.

The Ponce de Leon Inlet Light is a lighthouse and museum located at Ponce de León Inlet in Central Florida. At 175 feet (53 m) in height, it is the tallest lighthouse in the state and one of the tallest in the United States (the Cape Hatteras Light in North Carolina is taller at 207 feet (63 m)). It is located between St. Augustine Light and Cape Canaveral Light. Restored by the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association, the lighthouse became a National Historic Landmark in 1998.

Completed in 1887 and located on the north side of the inlet, then named Mosquito Inlet, the tower was completed and the lamp, which could be seen 17 nautical miles; 32 kilometres (20 mi) away, lit in 1887.

The original lamp burned kerosene; in 1909 it was replaced with an incandescent oil vapour lamp. In 1924 a generator was installed to provide electricity in the keepers’ dwellings and to pump water, replacing an old windmill pump. The lighthouse beacon was electrified in 1933 with a 500-watt lamp. The first order Fresnel lens was replaced with a third order rotating Fresnel lens at the same time.

In 1927 the name of Mosquito Inlet was changed to Ponce de Leon Inlet. The lighthouse was transferred from the abolished Lighthouse Service to the United States Coast Guard in 1939, which would oversee it for the next three decades. In 1970, the Coast Guard abandoned the old light station and established a new beacon at New Smyrna Beach. The abandoned property was then deeded to the Town of Ponce Inlet. At the urging of concerned citizens, the Town of Ponce Inlet accepted the Light Station property from the Coast Guard in 1972, and the Lighthouse Preservation Association was formed to manage the museum.

My Achilles was still painful for walking so we did not venture to the top but we did visit all of the outbuildings and the remnants of “boat people” boats and rafts that made the journey from Cuba. The buildings included the Light Keepers house , the assistant Light Keepers residence , a modern administration building and a museum of the various types of lamp used in the lighthouse.

Just as we are looking for a comfortable placed to dine we found that the local Mustang car collectors were having their local meet across the road sponsored by the Lions Club of Ponce Inlet. Just beyond was Hidden Treasures with its miniature light house and its water side bar and grill. Just the thing for lunch. Great lunch and the bar was handy too. The restaurant has picturesque views of the waterways and its bird life – in this case Pelicans and a lone hawk.