Monday, February 17, 2020
In coastal areas, lighthouses often stand solitary sentry as symbols of a bygone era when oceangoing sailing ships were mainstays of intercontinental transportation. Since 1860, seamen relied on the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse to avoid navigational dangers that might have caused loss of ship, life and cargo.
The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum tells the story of this early Florida lighthouse located in Jupiter, a coastal town north of West Palm Beach, Florida.
The museum, shown above, is in a building originally built to house US Navy personnel during WWII. In the war, the Navy used direction finders to locate German U-Boat so that anti-submarine forces could be deployed to protect shipping.
The entrance is on the museum’s backside. Museum and grounds admission tickets are sold in the gift shop. Visitors wishing to see the lighthouse up close will have to stop in the gift shop to purchase tickets.
The museum displays cover the peoples living in the area before Europeans came to the Americas, the arrival of Europeans in the area, the lighthouse’s creation and up to the present time. The displays did a good job of telling the lighthouse’s story.
After visiting the museum, visitors might set off toward the lighthouse. On the way to the light house there is another historic site and artifact to see.
The Tindall Pioneer House was the first European American home built in the area. The house wasn’t originally built on this site but was moved here during or after the 1960’s. The home’s interior has authentic Nineteenth Century period artifacts that would have been common in pioneer homes.
The Seminoles were the peoples inhabiting this area when the Europeans first arrived. Seminoles constructed structures similar to the Seminole Chickee shown above. Even on hot days, the Chickee provides respite from the sun’s heat. It was quite pleasant in the shade of the shelter.
Shout out to James Billie. In 2009, the former Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida built this particular Chickee to share with museum visitors.
Next along the path, the lighthouse comes into view. The closer to the Lighthouse visitors become, the taller the lighthouse appears to be.
The lighthouse is on a hill.
At the bottom of the stairs going up to the lighthouse is a large shaded area with a Ficus Tree in the center. The shaded area is like a big patio, part deck and part brick paving.
Everyone who wants to climb the stairs up to the top of the lighthouse must be in a tour group. Only one tour group at a time is allowed past the the first step to the top of the hill. Tour groups are kept small so that the decking around the top of the lighthouse doesn’t get too crowded.
The stairs are steep and there are quite a few to climb. At the start of tours, guides tell how many steps there are to the top of the hill and how many more steps there are to the top of the lighthouse. Lots and lots of stair steps.
Once the hill is climbed, there are 105 more steps to climb. Because the lighthouse stairs are narrow, people can’t safely pass each other on the steps. Everyone goes up together. Everyone comes down together.
At the start of the tour, the guide suggested that winded and weary stair climbers step into window areas to rest so that other visitors could pass safely. This worked well.
Stepping out of the way provided visitors with the ability to take in some gorgeous views surrounding the lighthouse.
Once at the top of the lighthouse, visitors can get good view of just how steep these stairs are.
Walking around the lighthouse on the deck at the top was a real treat. The above view is looking northeast-ish.
Each step along the decking provided different views. On a clear day like this one, it feels as if the world is small and far away. One can see forever.
The lighthouse is still operational. The light, originally lit by lard oil and later by kerosene, is now electric. An electric motor and gear system turn the light assembly around in circles at night. The whole thing is there to look at and ponder.
Great place for a selfie.
The tour guide was very pleasant to talk to. He had great recommendations for local restaurants.
At some point, the guide let everyone know it was time to return to earth. All of the visitors went single file down the steps, out the lighthouse and took the staircase to the bottom of the steps. The guide was the last one down. After he got to the bottom of the hill, the next tour group began their journey to the top of the lighthouse.
The can of water purchased in the gift shop turned out to be a real lifesaver. Climbing up the hill and to the top of the lighthouse and down again was thirsty work.
In the background behind the water can, the Keeper’s Workshop can be seen. It was open this day but perhaps the next.
Touring the museum, gift shop, pioneer house and lighthouse was one of the more pleasurable activities on this trip. This is something to do again and again. It seems worthwhile to keep an eye out for other lighthouses to tour.
The tour guide recommended two restaurants. Schooner’s was the restaurant we chose. We all ordered seafood plates. The food was excellent. Service was great. Atmosphere pleasing. Good casual dining place.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!