Dodging cars like a nervous pedestrian, the Biloxi Lighthouse seems to pause beside a busy highway

Traffic is a part of the scenery at Biloxi Lighthouse.

Traffic is a part of the scenery at Biloxi Lighthouse.

There is a sense of anxiety surrounding the Biloxi Lighthouse. It’s not limited to the cars speeding by on both sides of the median where the lighthouse is located. Unlike most lighthouses that evoke a sense of peace, the Biloxi Lighthouse is a reminder of turbulent times. This lighthouse has survived over 20 hurricanes, the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement and Confederate protests since it was built in 1848. 

There was a Confederate protest at when I visited the Biloxi Lighthouse.

There was a Confederate protest near the Biloxi Lighthouse when I visited.

Biloxi’s female light keepers worked heroically during most of these tumultuous years. Biloxi’s female keepers have more years of service than female keepers at other lighthouses.

A painting of the Biloxi Lighthouse.

This painting will be a part of the Shattering of Lens exhibit.

Shattering the Lens exhibit Sept 24-October 20 at the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island, New York sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. It is inspired by the book “Women Who Kept the Light” by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford.

For more information on the exhibit, visit


Head and shoulders above most lighthouses

Completed in 1887, it took over a million bricks to build the Ponce de Leon lighthouse.
Nestled in Ponce de Leon inlet, Florida’s tallest lighthouse quietly beckons you to a day of adventure. Ponce de Leon Lighthouse is the second tallest Lighthouse on the east coast. It stands head and shoulders above most other lighthouses in statue and possibly in what it offers the casual visitor. This large campus has so much to explore. 
Enjoy a delightful introduction to the lighthouse at the Woodshed Video Theater. Firewood and other supplies were once kept in this building by the Second Assistant Keeper’s family. 
Explore the original Keepers dwellings. See exhibits on the lives of the keepers and their families. Race fans will revel in the exhibits on the history of Beach racing.
 View an amazing collection of lighthouse lens. The magnificent rotating first order Fresnel lens from Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is on display here.
Brace yourself for spectacular view as you scale Florida’s tallest lighthouse.

Gasparilla Island Light restored to its former glory 

Built in 1881, Gasparilla Light is restored thanks to efforts by the local community, businesses, grants and the Barrier Island Parks Society. The non profit spearheaded the decades long task. The society received The Florida Trust Award for outstanding achievement. 

The lighthouse shines after receiving a replica of the original 4th order Fresnel lens and being recommissioning by the US Coast Guard. Visitors can now climb the lighthouse and celebrate the view and restoration. 

Coast Guard Families Need Your Help 

Amelia Island Lighthouse, Florida

The Coast Guard is responsible for the functioning of the beacon at Amelia Island Lighthouse on Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Looking for practical ways to help those impacted by the government shutdown. Donations are needed by The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. They assist Coast Guard members and their families with unexpected financial expenses. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military not being paid during the government shutdown. All donations are appreciated. Check out the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance website for more details.

A Damsel in Distress

Star of the Sea Youth Hostel

Star of the Sea youth hostel was formerly a life saving station.

It’s kind of ironic that I stayed at the Star of the Sea Youth Hostel in Nantucket. I really needed a reprieve from a chaotic visit to Martha’s Vineyard. The hostel was once a life saving station for distressed vessels. Now I was looking for shelter from a distressed encounter. 

Brant Point Lighthouse

Brant Point Lighthouse can be seen from the ferry.

Although the ferry ride was about a hour from Martha’s Vineyard, it felt a world away from the turmoil I had witnessed. I was happy to retreat to Nantucket for a few days of painting and quiet.

Old Brant Point Lighthouse

Most people don’t realize this a lighthouse because the lens is missing.

I had reluctantly booked a stay at the hostel. I thought the military style sleeping arrangements would not offer the peace and quiet that I needed. To my surprise there was a curfew with a time of quiet at night. 

Sankaty Lighthouse

Sankaty Lighthouse took a little maneuvering to get to.

After three days of quiet and completing 4 paintings, I felt renewed. The hostel was beautiful and I memorialized my visit by painting it. Of course the weather was windy and the water turbulent on the ferry ride back to Martha’s Vineyard. I was afraid it was an indicator of things to come. 

Surfside Life Saving Station in Nantucket, MA was established in 1874. The Life Saving Service is the precursor to today’s United States Coast Guard. It is a National Landmark.

Wildlife Abounds at Apalachee Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Entry Sign to Wakulla Springs

Wakulla Springs offers swimming, historic lodging, boat tours & more.

On the way to St. Marks Lighthouse I stopped by Wakulla Springs. For years I wanted to go to Wakulla to see the manatees. On the day of my arrival, I was told no manatees had been sighted. Still I purchased a ticket on the boat tour. Much to my delight a huge manatee swam beside me a few seconds after the tour began. Before the end of the tour, I saw 6 more manatees including 3 calves. 
A picture of a large manatee

This manatee outwitted the expert’s prediction.

The next day I headed to St. Marks. Once I arrived at St. Marks I realized I should have stayed at Crawfordville. Despite the name, Crawfordville is very lively and has much to offer like dining, shopping and pleasant hotels. There’s little see or do in St. Marks for landlubbers and the lodgings are subpar.  

A scenic view of St. Marks Wikdlife Refuge.

A scenic view of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge.

After spending the night at a Bed and Breakfast Inn, I headed to St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. Besides the lighthouse, the Refuge has picnic areas, a beach, a welcome center and gift shop. I enjoyed a scenic and quiet drive to the lighthouse. The salt marsh, pine forest, egrets made for a picturesque backdrop. It’s a nature lovers paradise with eagles, alligators, bitterns, ducks, herons, ibises and more. 

Picture of St Marks Lighthouse

St. Marks Lighthouse had two female lightkeepers.

The St. Marks Lighthouse recently reopened after being closed for renovations for 6 months. It is the second oldest lighthouse surviving in Florida. It is listed on the National Register. The keeper’s house is attached to the 88 foot tower. 

Good News and Bad News

St Marks after restoration.

St. Marks after being newly restored.

Hurricane Michael brought devastating damage to the west coast of Florida. The aftermath of the hurricane brought good news and bad news for a lighthouse on the west coast that was recently restored.

 The St. Marks Lighthouse keepers quarters staircase was destroyed but water did not get inside. 
Other areas of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge sustained damage that caused the closure of roadways and damage to other facilities. (Tallahassee Democrats)