Rotary Club of Fernandina Beach
Club 4360, District 6970

Chris Belcher talks to the Club about the Amelia Island Lighthouse

 
 
The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club recently welcomed Chris Belcher a lifelong resident of Fernandina Beach, local historian and expert on the Amelia Island Lighthouse. Belcher spoke to the club about the lighthouse, which was moved from Cumberland to Amelia Island in 1839, making the structure 175 years old. He said the light was placed on the highest point on Amelia Island – a 50 foot bluff overlooking Egans Creek – to guide ship traffic from the Atlantic Ocean into Fernandina – then one of the busiest deep-water harbors on the eastern seaboard. During the Civil War, the original lense was removed by the Union Army and stored in Waldo for safekeeping. For some four years, the lighthouse was dark. Originally powered by whale oil lamps and then kerosene, the lamp was electrified in 1934. Belcher said the original lamp was replaced by a Fresnel lense in 1904, which boasts a dodecagon or 12-sided shape with 312 prisms illuminated by 1,000 watt light bulbs. The U.S. Coast Guard deeded the lighthouse grounds and buildings to the city in 2000, but still owns and maintains the light itself. Limited tours of the lighthouse are open to the public and every night the light continues to sweep over Egans Creek and out to sea.