Sombrero Key Light

Sombrero Key Light is located near Key Vaca in Marathon, Florida. The lighthouse is located on a mostly submerged reef. The name Sombrero Key goes back to the Spanish, and old charts show a small island at the spot, but by the later 19th Century the island had eroded away, with some parts of the reef exposed at low tide. As a result, the reef and the lighthouse have also been called Dry Banks.

The lighthouse was put in service in 1858, automated in 1960, and is still in operation. The foundation is iron pilings with disks, and the tower is a skeletal octagonal pyramid of cast iron. It is 142 feet tall and is painted brown. It has two platforms. The lower one, 15 feet above the water, held water and fuel tanks, the generator (after the light was electrified), boat hoists and a workshop. The upper platform, 40 feet above the water, held the quarters for the staff. The original lens, a first order Fresnel lens, is now on display in the Key West Lighthouse Museum. The Sombrero Key Light is the tallest lighthouse in the Florida Keys, and was the last lighthouse constructed under the supervision of Lieutenant George Meade of the Bureau of Topographical Engineers.


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