Keys lighthouses are on a list the trust issued Thursday of 2015’s Most Endangered Historic Sites. The program is “designed to increase the public’s awareness of the urgent need to save Florida’s neglected or threatened historic resources, and to empower local preservationists and preservation groups in their efforts to preserve Florida’s rich history.
“The lighthouses are at Carysfort Reef (six miles south of Key Largo), Sand Key (seven miles southwest of Key West), Sombrero Key (five miles south of Marathon), Alligator Reef (four miles south of Islamorada) and American Shoal (five miles south of Sugarloaf Key). Built between 1852 and 1880, the lighthouses are made of cast iron with a skeletal design to let as much wind and waves pass through in order to withstand hurricanes.
The lighthouses were constructed to warn ships of the hazardous reefs below the surface.They have no lighthouse keepers anymore but are still beacons for mariners. They’re owned by the U.S. Coast Guard but the Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation is trying to acquire them. The trust says: “All lighthouses now have corrosion showing…. The need to save these lighthouses as pieces of history now doubles to protect the reef. Should the lighthouses be left to decay, the structures would fall on the reef, causing damage that cannot be repaired.”
We urge the Coast Guard to work with the Reef Lights Foundation to ensure these historic structures remain standing. They are a key part of our islands’ history and need to be preserved.