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Birding on Dauphin Island

Historic Fort Gaines

POA - Property
Owners' Association

Sand Island Light

Shell Mounds

Town of Dauphin Island-Municipal Government

Dauphin Island, AL
Archive of Historical Data, Books, Maps
And Other Materials
Sand Island Lighthouse Timeline
Taken From Alabama Light House Association Web Site

  • Year Established: 1838
  • Light first lit: 1838
  • Year last rebuilt: 1873
  • Last Fresnel Lens installed: 1873
  • Year automated: 1921
  • Year deactivated: 1933
  • Foundation: Stone
  • Construction materials: Brownstone
  • Shape: Conical
  • Height: 131 feet
  • Original Optic: Second order Fresnel Lens
  • Height of focal plane: 132 feet
  • Construction style: Masonry Gothic

  • Sand Island
    Fresnel 2nd Order
    Lens on Display
    Fort Morgan Museum

    Sand Island
    Architect's Drawing
    Same Plans From
    Currituck Lighthouse
    In Corolla, NC

    Located roughly three miles from the Mobile Bay entrance, between Mobile Point on the east and Dauphin Island on the west, stands Sand Island Lighthouse on a narrow strip of land that was once 400 acres.

    In 1837, Congress allocated $10,000 and Winslow Lewis began construction on Alabama’s first and only seacoast light. It stood 55 feet tall and had 14 lamps in 16 inch reflectors that could be seen for roughly 15 miles at night.

    In 1839, for $500 per year, John McCloud was hired as the first keeper.

    As the years went by, the land around Sand Island Light was slowly eroding away. It was apparent by the 1850s, there was a need for a new lighthouse.

    In 1858, under the direction of Army Engineer Danville Leadbetter, a conical brick tower was constructed and the tallest lighthouse to be built proudly displayed its 1st order Fresnel lens in 1859.

    Two years later the Confederate soldiers discovered Yankees in the tower spying on Ft. Morgan and the structure was blasted into the water.

    After the destruction, a wooden tower 48 feet high was built and it marked Sand Island from 1864 to 1873.

    In September of 1873, a new 125 foot lighthouse was in operation. Shortly, a two story keepers’ house was built. By 1880, the foundation was breaking apart due to erosion. Jetties were extended and by 1888, 10 feet of sand separated the lighthouse from the sea. Granite was added around the base and 10 years later, 6,000 or more tons were added.

    In 1901, the keepers’ house was torn down and a smaller dwelling was built. The lighthouse was manned with two keepers and their wives and a few days before the 1906 hurricane struck, one of the keepers went to shore. The hurricane took the light out and the remaining keeper and wives were gone...never to be found.

    A second hurricane struck in 1919. A landing party was sent to see why the light was out but they found the station deserted. A log which kept the daily activities of the keepers stated that the had gone to pick up a new employee. They were never found and it was assumed that their boat had overturned in the rough seas returning to the lighthouse.

    In 1921, the lighthouse was automated and was deactivated 11 years later.

    In 1971, the second-order Fresnel lens was removed and placed in the Ft. Morgan Museum, where it is kept today.

    In 1973, the keepers' house burned down.

    Today, the lighthouse is owned by the residents of Dauphin Island where an extensive restoration process is beginning. The Alabama Lighthouse Association continues its support for the restoration of this historical landmark.

    Winslow Lewis

    1837 constructed Alabama's first seacoast light.

    1859 Photo Showing
    Several Buildings
    Sitting On approx.
    400 Acres

    1884 Photo Showing
    Two Story Lighthouse
    Keeper's Qarters

    1950 Photo Showing
    Lighthouse Keeper's
    House Built 1925

    1962 Looking From SW
    Lighthouse Keeper's
    House Burned 1973

    Fort Gaines Sand Island Light House Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island Dauphin Island History Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium

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    Gulf Information Pages, Dauphin Island, AL