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.

To-Do List: Lighthouses

Unlike my last To-Do List post, which was something new that I’d just discovered and wanted to get started on, today’s To-Do List post is something that I’m actively working on already.

I grew up in Chicago, which does have a few lighthouses to its credit, and yet for most of my life, lighthouses were something that existed somewhere else.  We visited one (I’m pretty sure it was Jupiter Inlet light) during my childhood.  I definitely have visited that one during my adulthood.  We may have gone to Tybee Island light during one of our trips to Savannah, since we have a postcard of it.  I don’t remember it, though.

My interest in lighthouses goes back to 1993 or 1997, depending on how you count.  In 1993, when we first got cable, one of the channels we got was the Sci-Fi Channel, and I finally, after about 27 years of hearing about it, got to see the original 1966 Dark Shadows television program.  I became a fan instantly.  The town where Dark Shadows is set is described as being 50 miles from Bangor, in Hancock County, and on Frenchman’s Bay.  So once I had an Internet connection, in 1997, I set out to figure out where, exactly, that would be, and in the process, saw all kinds of photographs of lighthouses.  At first, I wanted to see one lighthouse, but then with time I decided that I want to see them all.

Since 1997, every time I visit a place that’s near water, I try to see at least one lighthouse (and if I can climb one, that’s even better).  In my 2015 vacation, I got three lighthouses in.  The first was the Statue of Liberty, which is no longer a lighthouse, but was one from 1886 until 1902.  My second and third were Blackwell Island Light and Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse (the subject of the children’s book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge”) on our Circle Tour trip (more on the tour in a future post).

I still have never visited a lighthouse in Maine, though.