Lighthouses were previously widespread in the Southeast and designed to safely alert approaching boats. While these lifesaving lights may be designed to guide mariners and prevent nautical disasters, they are also beautiful landmarks to visit. If you live in a state with ample miles of shoreline, you have probably visited a lighthouse. But if you haven’t, then you’re missing out. Imagine yourself high in the air, hair ruffled by a salty breeze; land and water spread out below you, clashing in rhythmic unison.
There is something truly magical in a lighthouse visit – but where can you find one in Georgia? Such an experience is made possible by traveling down the Georgia coastline. Sadly though, due to erosion and hurricanes, only a small number stand today. Still, Georgia is fortunate to have six that tourists can visit and one that is privately owned but beautiful regardless. This article explores the 7 beautiful Georgia lighthouses.
7 Beautiful Lighthouses in Georgia
1. Tybee Island Light
On Tybee Island, Georgia’s northeastern tip, there is a lighthouse called Tybee Island Light that is close to the Savannah River Entrance. General James Oglethorpe, the man who founded Georgia, gave the order to construct the Tybee Island Lighthouse/Museum near the mouth of the Savannah River. The first tower was made of wood, but a storm in 1741 destroyed it.
The following year, a replacement structure made of stone and wood was built. However, it was destroyed by coastal erosion and was rebuilt by John Mullryne in 1773, this time as a brick tower that was 100 feet tall. The Tybee Island Light Station is still one of the country’s most intact lighthouses today. In addition to having a functioning museum where visitors may learn about centuries of history, the lighthouse allows visitors to ascend its 178 steps on foot.
2. St. Simons Island Light
On the southernmost point of St. Simons Island in Georgia, a lighthouse known as the St. Simons Island Light directs ships into St. Simons Sound and issues warnings about the numerous sandbars nearby. Constructed in 1810, the original building was destroyed by Confederate troops during the Civil War, only to be rebuilt in 1872 with keeper’s quarters.
Most of the building materials were tabby, a regional concoction of oyster shells, lime, sand, and water, which were utilized for inexpensive reasons. In 1934, the lighthouse was electrified, and in 1953 it was fully automated. Visitors are welcome to ascend the 129-step staircase to the summit of the working lighthouse.
3. Little Cumberland Island Light
On the north end of Little Cumberland Island, next to Main Cumberland Island in Camden County, stands a privately owned lighthouse called Little Cumberland Island Lighthouse. The tower is 60 feet tall, 22 feet wide at the base, and tapers to 11 feet wide at the top. It was constructed in 1838 by Boston resident John Hastings. Until 1915, when it was deactivated, the lighthouse was in operation.
Despite being infrequently utilized during the Civil War, the Little Cumberland lighthouse avoided the destruction that some of the other Georgia lighthouses at the time faced. The Little Cumberland Island lighthouse is a privately owned structure, unlike other lighthouses in Georgia, and entrance is prohibited without the owner’s consent.
4. Sapelo Island Light
The Sapelo Island Light Station, the earliest remaining Winslow Lewis-designed lighthouse in the country, is situated on the southernmost point of Sapelo Island. It is the second-oldest brick lighthouse in the country. The federal government purchased the land in 1808 for $1, and the lighthouse was constructed there in 1820.
This monument was originally a lighthouse with red and white stripes. However, it was reconstructed with a new spiral staircase, new lantern glass and light, and the façade was coated in the original striped paint scheme after being wrecked by a hurricane in 1898.
The lighthouse is a 65-foot-tall brick building with a base diameter of around 30 feet and a top diameter of about 12 feet. Today, the lighthouse has been rebuilt and is accessible to the public.
5. Sapelo Island Range Front Light
On Sapelo Island, next to the Sapelo Island Light, is a range light called the Sapelo Island Range Front Light (or Sapelo Island Range Beacon). It was first constructed from wood in 1855, but several earlier versions were destroyed and replaced before the current iron light was constructed in 1877. It was put to use until 1899 when it was taken apart.
The American Coast Guard put it back together and used it to search for submarines during World War II. It was submitted as a candidate for the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 and is thought to be the state’s oldest remaining iron building.
6. Cockspur Island Light
The smallest lighthouse in Georgia, the Cockspur Island Light, is located on an islet off Cockspur Island in the south channel of the Savannah River. In the beginning, this lighthouse was only intended to serve as a marker to designate the gateway to the South Channel of the Savannah River.
The Cockspur Island Light was constructed beginning in 1837 on an oyster and mussel bed but was discontinued in 1909. Since 2007, it has been relit for historical rather than navigational purposes. To lessen the effect of the waves on the structure, this lighthouse’s base was designed like a ship’s prow.
The Lighthouse Overlook Trail provides a view of the lighthouse, though the public is not allowed on the lighthouse or the surrounding area. Visitors can frequently use kayaks to access the lake close to the beacon on a guided tour.
7. Savannah Harbor Light
An old navigational aid near Emmet Park on East Bay Street in Savannah is called the Old Harbor Light, also called the Savannah Harbor Light. It was constructed in 1858 on Fig Island, a piece of land in the Savannah River, and is one of Georgia’s most recognizable lighthouses. Its purpose was to direct ships into the harbor. Made of cast iron imported from Europe, the light looks like a gigantic street light.
The lighthouse was repositioned a few feet to the south in 1869, renovated in 1929, and then switched off during World War II. It was transferred to its current location in 1958, and after being renovated, it was lit again in 2001.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/6381380
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- Explore Georgia, Available here: https://www.exploregeorgia.org/things-to-do/article/georgias-lighthouses
- New Georgia Encyclopedia, Available here: https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/arts-culture/lighthouses-of-georgia/
- Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lighthouses_in_Georgia_(U.S._state)