During our short stay in Crescent Beach, Elle and I decided to take Matt to the St. Augustine Lighthouse – the oldest surviving brick structure in the city. While the lighthouse itself is situated on the north end of Anastasia Island, it is still considered to be within the city limits of St. Augustine. And this is actually the second lighthouse tower. The first tower, built from coquina in 1737, failed to withstand the beach erosion and collapsed into the sea leaving the base of the tower underwater. To this day, it is considering a submerged archaeological site. It is still possible to view the remnants of the old lighthouse at low tide.
The current lighthouse was erected in 1874, using bricks on top of the coquina, and has been able to withstand the region’s hurricanes and nor’easters, the salt spray and beach erosion, and nearby dredging and construction projects for nearly 140 years.
Inside the base of the St. Augustine Lighthouse are a few rooms housing the original journals belonging to the lighthouse’s keepers. Other artifacts include manual tools enclosed in glass casings, sets of keys carried by the keepers, and pails and buckets used to haul the oil for the lamp that sat at the very top of the tower, 219 steps up.
The spiral staircase seems to go on forever. Thankfully, there are eight separate landings for those too weary to continue the climb without stopping. Once you reach the top, though, the view is enough to leave you speechless. Looking all around, we could see the Bridge of Lions, the Spanish tiled rooftops of the Old City, the massive tent cover hovering over the St. Augustine Amphitheater down below. At such great heights, the wind gusts can become overwhelming at times, even the guide registered one gust to be 36 mph!
Also, it’s a long way down.