CEDAR KEY — On Wednesday, March 29, one of Levy County’s most historic sites will be open to the public.
Staff of the Cedar Keys Wildlife Management Area will greet visitors to the Cedar Keys Light Station on Seahorse Key from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Access to the island is only by boat.
The Cedar Keys Light Station was first lit on Aug. 1, 1854, under the direction of Light Keeper William Wilson. The original building measured 70 square feet and had a covered gallery, which ran around all four sides. Elevation of the first floor was 51.48 feet above sea level.
Located in the center hallway is the 42-step circular metal stair to the tower. The tower houses a 4th order Fresnel lens – fixed, varied by flashes every minute. The light was 75 feet above sea level and visible 15 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Tucked away on a bluff is a small cemetery of nine persons. Five of those buried there were Union soldiers and sailors. One burial is that of past Light Keeper, William Wilson. Also, buried there are Cedar Key resident Joseph Crevasse and his youngest son, Timothy. The last burial was that of Catharine Hobday, assistant Light Keeper and the only female light keeper at the station. Catharine was the mother of Andrew Hobday, the longest-tenured light keeper on Seahorse Key.
In 1915, the lighthouse was abandoned by the U.S. Light House Service and jurisdiction passed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, encompassing 13 islands surrounding the City of Cedar Key, was formed in 1929. The island of Seahorse Key was taken into refuge in 1936.
Tour boats are available for a fee at the docks in Cedar Key. Rain dates for the open house are Thursday, March 30 or Friday, March 31.
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