Fort Jefferson - Tortugas Harbor Lighthouse - Elevations - White - Framed & Mounted Print

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The Tortugas Harbor Lighthouse was constructed of boiler-plate iron and erected February-April 1876 as an aid to navigation for local harbor traffic. The design was created under the direction of the Light House Board by Major Jared A. Smith, then Superintending Engineer at Fort Jefferson; his approved drawings are dated January 10, 1876. Iron was second to brick in popularity for use in lighthouse construction, beginning with the first in the U.S. in 1844, due to its durability and ease of construction. Iron lighthouse sections and their component parts could be easily cast and assembled on site ( and disassembled and moved if needed). Tortugas Harbor Lighthouse is comprised of four tiers of precast iron construction. The first two levels of the structure are hexagonal, while the third and fourth levels are cylindrical and encompass the Watch Room and Lantern Room, respectively. With a range of only 13 miles, the Tortugas Harbor Lighthouse was used mainly as a beacon; the principle aid to the navigation in area being the Loggerhead Key Lighthouse, located 2-1/2 nautical miles west of the fort. Both lighthouses were built to help ships traveling to and from the Gulf of Mexico negotiate the treacherous reefs that surround the area.

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