Operated by the Loxahatchee River Historical Society, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Museum offers tours of the lighthouse and the grounds, as well as the opportunity to see the beautiful surrounding views of the Jupiter Inlet and Loxahatchee River.
History Of The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
Authorized in 1853 by Congress, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse tower was constructed in 1860 by Captain Edward Yorke. Although the construction materials had to be transported down the Indian River in small barges, the entire lighthouse, oil house and keeper’s quarters were constructed in only 6 months!
The light house was also fitted with a first order Fresnel lens , which still works today, with the light being visible for up to 25 Miles out to sea.
When the civil war broke out ‘ the light was darkened the following month by two Confederate Assistant Keepers who made off with enough parts to disable the light. The light was relit five years later when the missing parts were located and replaced by Asst. Keeper, James Arango Armour. Armour was present in 1866 as Asst. Keeper of Jupiter Lighthouse at the relighting in June after the Civil War. He was Asst. Keeper from July 10, 1866 until December 16, 1869 when he was made Head Keeper, a position he held for over 40 years.’ (www.jupiterlighthouse.org)
The more recent 20th century history of the Jupiter Lighthouse is no less interesting. In 1939 all US light houses became responsibility of the US Coast Guard. Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, in that same year, became an ‘Intelligence Listening Post’ which involved the construction of barracks for personnel. ‘Station J’ as it was called, went online in July 1940.
The secret ‘Station J’ at Jupiter Inlet Lighhouse, was instrumental in helping the allied WW2 war effort, as it was designed to intercept German U-Boat messages and warn allied ships, as well as help the US Navy to locate and attack enemy vessels:
‘ Station J was able to pinpoint the names and locations of the submarines. In May 1943, 30 German submarines were destroyed, and in June another 37. Most had been located by the men of Station J’ (Wikipedia).
The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse And Museum Nowadays
In 1988, the Loxahatchee River Historical Society entered into an agreement with the Coast Guard, to maintain and insure the lighthouse and to conduct regular tours of the lighhouse starting in 1994. Before then, tours were only allowed periodically by permission of the Coast Guard (Wikipedia).
The Loxahatchee River Historical Society undertook a major renovation project, which was completed in the year 2000, and added the museum and society headquarters in 2006 (housed in the old World War II Building). These major investments are very much evident when visiting now, with the lighthouse painted brightly and the modern and beautiful little museum adjacent.
You will certainly enjoy your visit here! The tour of the grounds and lighthouse is so much fun; we were lucky to have had an enthusiastic and fun tour guide. The tour included a lovingly restored original Victorian cottage complete with contents! We were guided around the grounds and told of Seminole history and indigenous plants, in addition to some facts and figures regarding the lighthouse itself. Support the museum and pay them a visit, you won’t be disappointed!
What Else Is There To Do In The Vicinity?
You will notice a little beach in front of the lighthouse, where we saw quite a few people kayaking and paddle boarding or just soaking up the rays and taking a dip. Directly opposite, on the other side of the river, there is a kayak outfitter where one can rent kayaks to cruise the Loxahatchee or Indian Rivers – there are many opportunties in the area.
A sandbar! Seems I simply can’t write a post without mentioning a sandbar. The Jupiter Inlet Sandbar is located near the inlet, west of it and you will see the sand at low tide just past the second bridge coming from the ocean side into the inlet. It is easily kayakable provided one keeps an eye out for boat traffic, as this is a very popular spot for boaters.
It was extremely windy when we visited Jupiter so it was quickly decided to drive to the Indian River Lagoon side and put in our kayaks by the side of the road right there. On a Saturday afternoon there was plenty of parking and space available. We are not used to seeing that in Fort Lauderdale or Miami, so it came as a positive shock!
We discovered that here too there are plenty of boats that speed by, creating big wakes, which on a busy day doesn’t make it the easiest kayaking adventure. If you are truly into boat-free kayaking, I would recommend kayaking or canoeing down the Loxahatchee River from Riverbend park, which is a much more tranquil experience. I wrote about it here. It also affords you the opportunity to see Trapper Nelson’s, which is well worth visiting.
Fun In The Sun!
We had fun here and happily paddled around a little and did some kayak fishing. We even got to see some manatees in this little area, which is just north east of the Jupiter lighthouse. A perfect place for relaxing a couple of hours, with some convenient beachy alcoves within the mangroves where one could almost have a little private beach!
Have you been to see the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse? Do you have some suggestions of good kayak routes there? I look forward to connecting!