This is the tour of the lighthouse from the years 2000-2001, before the lighthouse was restored. The gallery of pictures is below. To enlarge an image, click on it. You can click on the image again to see it in a separate window. To close out of an image and go back to the main gallery, just click the 'X' at the top right corner. The gallery is in Flash (requires Flash player) and may take a few moments to load. The narrative tour is below the gallery on this page.
During one of my trips to the lighthouse in my younger years, I was able to enter the fenced in confines of the lighthouse area marked "Restricted Area." While I certainly do not condone trespassing, my fascination with being able to climb the lighthouse took over, and I entered in to the lighthouse area and inspected in awe such a mysterious and beautiful piece of history that had been closed off to so many. Standing on the concrete foundation of the tower that had been overgrown with brush, I gazed up at the skeletal structure in amazement. One could instantly tell the dire condition of the lighthouse by the rusted and broken turnbuckles, and peeling paint revealing the rusted cast iron bones of the structure.
Standing at the open door of the lighthouse, I could smell the result of rainwater collecting on the inside of the tower due to the windows being broken out and the door busted open. A cool breeze passed down the spiral stairway to greet me at the door opening during a beautiful hot summer day. I continued to take pictures as I began climbing the cast iron spiral staircase. I considered for a moment the safety of climbing the lighthouse in such dilapidated condition, but decided to go on to try and reach the top of the tower. During the climb, at least 2 or 3 cast iron steps on the staircase were missing, providing holes in the staircase that could easily cause injury for a careless lighthouse climber. The windows in the central tube of the tower were completely open, and I remember peering out one of them to see the skeletal structure outside. Lighthouses of this construction have always interested me, and this was the first time I had been able to climb one and see the details of the ironwork. After studying the lighthouse structure through one of the windows, I instantly realized how open the stairway was due to the broken out windows.
As typical with many lighthouses, the staircase became very steep towards the end of the climb, letting you know that you are close to the top of the tower. As I reached the gallery, I stood in awe of the platform that at one time had held the glass Fresnel lens, and the elegant honeycomb holes in the platform floor that allowed light from the lens to illuminate the lower gallery. It amazed me that the gallery and windows of the lighthouse contained not even a speck of glass anymore due to vandalism and the natural elements. The gallery platform awarded a magnificent view of Anclote Key from all directions. As I circled the gallery watch deck, I could not help from feeling unsafe from being so high on a structure in which I knew so little about its condition. I safely returned to the ground level, and for one last time I looked up at the maze of cast iron supports and turnbuckles that held the tower together. It was fulfilling to have been able to climb the abandoned lighthouse that I for years wished to have been able to access, yet at the same time I realized that it was foolish to have climbed the tower in such unkempt condition.