My Travel Memories: Jupiter Inlet Light, Jupiter, Florida

This may be the last post of my going-to-Florida-up-to-1977 posts.  Next, I guess, will be my family’s and my trips to Western North Carolina, where my maternal grandfather had a cabin.  We made several trips there, including 1974 and 1977.

Jupiter Inlet Light was built on the premises of the Jupiter Military Reservation.  The original structure in that region was Fort Jupiter, built in 1838, during what looks like the Second Seminole War.  The government then expanded the property to an entire reservation.

The lighthouse was built atop a mound that was originally thought to be a midden — a garbage pile — left by the natives.  It was later proven to be a natural sand dune.  The lighthouse was built in 1860.

Lighthouses have something called a “daymark.” This is the color markings and shape of the lighthouse.  No two lighthouses are identical. This allows sailors to use them as navigational aids during daytime, as well as at night.  One of the most famous daymarks is the black-and-white spiral marking on Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  Jupiter Inlet Light’s daymark is its red color.  During its first 50 years of operation, Jupiter Inlet Light was unpainted, and in 1910, it was painted a bright red.  During renovations in the early 1990s, the red paint was changed to a more muted brick red color.

Parts of the grounds, including the museum, are handicap accessible.  There is a ramp with handrails at the Tindall Pioneer Homestead Exhibit and there is an ADA-compliant path through the nearby natural area.  Unfortunately, the light itself is not wheelchair accessible. There are 34 steps to the top of the hill and the top of the lighthouse is accessed by a 105-stair spiral staircase.

I recall being disappointed by Jupiter Inlet Light the first time I saw it.  As I pointed out before, the black-and-white pattern of Cape Hatteras Light is one of the most famous daymarks.  I was under the impression that all lighthouses were black and white, and when I saw that Jupiter Inlet Light was red, I kind of felt that it was a counterfeit lighthouse.  I was also disappointed that we couldn’t climb it.  That opportunity wouldn’t come until one of my visits as an adult, since they didn’t have any tours to the top of the lighthouse until 1994.

Now Jupiter Inlet light is one of my favorites.  It was, after all, the first lighthouse I can remember having visited.  My parents retired to the area near where my cousins lived and whenever my now-ex and I would visit, my folks would take us to dinner in one of several restaurants that were close enough to see the light flashing in the night.

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