Sand Island Light: The Famous Decommissioned Lighthouse of Alabama

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Sand Island Light, situated in Mobile Bay, Alabama, stands as a testament to the rich maritime history of the region and an important part of US history since it is number 75000305 in the National Register of Historic Places. This iconic lighthouse has played a vital role in guiding ship traffic and ensuring safe navigation for over a century.

The history of Sand Island Light dates back to its construction in 1838. The United States Congress, recognizing the need for a navigational aid in the area, authorized the construction of the lighthouse. The responsibility for designing the structure fell into the capable hands of Winslow Lewis, a well-known lighthouse builder of that era. The construction of Sand Island Light was completed in 1839, and it proudly began its service to seafarers.

Over the years, Sand Island Light has witnessed numerous maritime events and undergone significant transformations. Originally equipped with 13 lamps and 13-inch reflectors, the lighthouse underwent an upgrade in 1859 with a fourth-order Fresnel lens, extending its visibility range. However, during the Civil War, the Confederates disabled the light to hamper Union naval efforts.

Following the war, Sand Island Light was repaired and its operations resumed, ensuring the safety of ships navigating the treacherous waters of Mobile Bay. In 1873, to further enhance its visibility, a new, taller iron tower was erected adjacent to the original structure, increasing the overall height of the lighthouse to 125 feet.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw continuous improvements in the technology used in lighthouses. Sand Island Light saw its final transformation in 1874 when an oil house, fog bell, and a fog signal building were added to enhance its functionality and provide additional safety measures during inclement weather. The addition of these features solidified the lighthouse's importance as a guiding beacon for mariners.

Today, Sand Island Light stands as a cherished historical landmark and a symbol of the region's maritime heritage. Although the original structure was severely damaged by hurricanes in the 20th century, it was rebuilt and remains an active aid to navigation. Visitors can witness the towering presence of Sand Island Light and appreciate the rich history it represents.

In conclusion, Sand Island Light in Mobile Bay, Alabama, holds great significance in the maritime history of the region. Its construction, upgrades, and adaptations over the years have ensured safe navigation for ships entering or leaving the bay. With its resilience and enduring presence, Sand Island Light continues to inspire awe and serves as a tangible reminder of the essential role that lighthouses have played in shaping our maritime past.


- "Sand Island Lighthouse - Mobile Bay, Alabama." Lighthouse Friends. Accessed June 10, 2021.

- "Sand Island Lighthouse, Alabama." The Society for the Preservation of Lighthouse History. Accessed June 10, 2021.

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