Crooked River Light House

Lighthouse Blog

Archives - March 2011

March 18, 2011

Camp Gordon Johnston Parade

Arlene, Kelly, and Laruel (lighthouse)

03/18/11, 04:56 PM

March 11, 2011

Great Florida Beach Walk, November 6, 2010


Photos courtesy of R. Gasche

03/11/11, 08:46 AM

2010 Lantern Fest Photo Collages Courtesy of Ray Courage


03/11/11, 08:42 AM

Thanks so much to Lou Kellenberger for the beautiful photos!

03/11/11, 08:40 AM

Participants of the Tallahassee Museum of Natural History spend a day at the Crooked River Lighthouse.





03/11/11, 08:35 AM

The New Jersey Lighthouse society recaps our Forgotten Coast Lighthouse Challenge

03/11/11, 08:34 AM

Thanks to Joan and Arlene for the educational community outreach to Project Impact kids!!

On Tuesday June 29th, Crooked River Lighthouse was visited by 148 enthusiastic little ones from the wonderful Project Impact After school and Summer Camp Enrichment Program. The Keeper's House wrap around porch was the scene for an en masse picnic lunch and the facilitators did an excellent job of coordinating the meal time and one-at-a time bathroom break! Carrabelle Lighthouse board officer Arlene Oehler and curator and program developer Joan Matey welcomed the young students. During lunch children engaged in guessing the age and height of the tower, and were told that the 103 foot structure had been shipped as a build-it-yourself kit, like a huge Tinker toy, back in 1895.


Children ranged from Pre-K through 2nd grade, and entered the museum in groups of 16-18 at a time. Inside are photographs of the original crew building the tower and also portraits of the first keepers and their families. Children were asked if they thought it would be easy or hard to be a lighthouse keeper and the job duties from the early days were explained. When asking how light was made before electricity, we loved the thoughtful answers given by the littlest ones ( "from the sun and from the moon"). Hurricane lamps around the rooms helped to illustrate the next step up from candle power, and the soot on the glass chimneys helped to show that the keeper had to not only keep the tower light beaming all night but had to spend the next day cleaning the lenses to keep it as bright as possible. Many of the children had not heard of prisms but most had played with magnifying glasses and had seen how curved glass enlarges. Our science room exhibits show what eventually replaced the lighthouse keeper, an automatic high intensity light bulb changer.


Our history room also displays a gramophone and some children's toys from the 1900s. Via a replica of the 1903 Sears catalog students could see the kind of clothing they would have worn and the low prices for goods.  The keeper's desk has an assortment of accessories true to the 1890s, including ink dipping pens and coins and currency of the day. A lighthouse keeper's daily wage of $1.64 is displayed with a silver certificate, a Barber half dollar and dime and Indian head pennies.


Due to the number and age of the students we did not show our educational video about the Fresnel lens, but this 9 minute piece created by a Disney engineer is an excellent science lesson for grade school students. Also due to some of the tiny sized students we did not climb the 138 step tower, but we welcome older students ( anyone at least 44" tall!) to be part of a group climb.

All of the students thoroughly enjoyed swarming the decks of our 70 ft wooden playground ship, complete with ropes, ladders and slides. The Crooked River Lighthouse has a lot to offer as a wonderful field trip destination, with history and science education, the lighthouse itself, and fun playground features. We are currently developing a new science program through Florida State University's Science on the Move Program. Our standard fee for group visits is $1. per student; facilitators and chaperones are free.

03/11/11, 08:33 AM

1st Annual Coastal Blessing

From left to right:  Pastor Ron Barks, Father Joseph Ssemakula, and Mother Teri Monica.

Coastal Blessing at the Crooked River Lighthouse on May 30, 2010.   In addition to the blessings from Mother Teri Monica of  Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Father Joseph of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Pastor Ron Barks of First Assembly of God, Randy Harrison read the Native American prayer captioned on a photo by Joan Matey of Carrabelle Beach.

03/11/11, 08:27 AM

Lighthouse Challenge 2010


Joan Matey, Curator of the Crooked River Lighthouse Keeper’s House Museum, took advantage of the presence of Miss Florida and her attendants during the Forgotten Coast Lighthouse Challenge Event, to dedicate a replica of the USLH Issue Library Box constructed by local antique restorer, Jack Stewart. Visitors have taken lists of the original books lent by USLHE to see if they can find them to donate. We will place a replica of the original book plate in each one.

Joan and Carrabelle Lighthouse Association Historian, John Canetta, are also applying to the U.S. Coast Guard to return our original Fresnel lens, located in New Orleans, to the museum for exhibition. This project requires the CLA to pay for a registered lampist to inspect and possibly make repairs to the lens. There will also be the cost of creating an appropriate shipping crate and special shipping service fees. Finally, Paid professional assistance will be required to design and install a custom exhibit base and plexiglass enclosure for the lens.


Founding member and past president, Barbara Revell with Miss Florida at the lighthouse challenge.

03/11/11, 08:24 AM

2010 Florida Lighthouse Day Celebration

4/23/2010 - 4/24/2010
Forgotten Coast Lighthouse Mini-Challenge

The first Forgotten Coast Lighthouse Mini-Challenge will be held on the Friday and Saturday of Florida Lighthouse Day weekend. Participants will receive prizes for visiting the four Forgotten Coast lighthouses: Cape St. George, Crooked River, Cape San Blas, and St. Marks. The event will be funded in part by a grant from the Franklin County Tourist Development Council.  More details to come!

03/11/11, 08:15 AM

Carrabelle Lighthouse Association participates in the Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Reunion Parade


03/11/11, 08:12 AM

Crooked River’s Lantern Fest Starts Magical Tradition

Donny Dennig as Pierre Viaud and Joan Matey, Lantern Fest creator.



The magic of Lantern Fest 2009



The first Lantern Fest at Crooked River Lighthouse was some enchanted evening. A hundred colorful lanterns swung from the trees surrounding the lighthouse and luminaries lined the pathways around the park. The playground's 70 foot long wooden pirate ship made a spectacular set for an evening of outdoor entertainment. First up was talented banjo player, Howard Pardue, joined by musician Ken Horne on guitar, bones and harmonica, playing traditional turn- of- the -century music. 

Historic re-enactor Andrew Edell, dressed in an authentic lighthouse keeper's garb, revealed that a keeper did much more than just keep that light burning in the tower. There were tales of many daring rescues at sea, a famous woman lighthouse keeper with a 50 year career, and a keeper's dog who'd been trained to ring the fog bell.

Talented area actors collaborated with Joan Matey, curator of the Crooked River Lighthouse and creator of the event, to present a performance of "Disaster on Dog Island: The Wreck of LeTigre." This true 1767 tale of French merchant marine Pierre Viaud and his miserable 81 days of being stranded in our wilderness occurred long, long before it was known as Tate's Hell. The adventure was certainly hellish for Viaud, played by Donny Dennig, and narrator Ed Tiley dramatically told the gruesome experiences of the Frenchman's ordeal. Caroline Illardi created the play adaption from Viaud's own book. Jeff Illardi, Margy Oehlert, Billy Hoffmeier and local student Michael Lewis portrayed other characters. With the help of stage assistants Ann Cowles and Guy Hogan, the set was magical; each actor holding a lantern as they appeared on board the ship.

 Over 150 visitors mingled under the moonlight and lanterns that night and many took the opportunity to climb the lighthouse and get a closer look at the almost full moon. You could hear  the beacon's motor turning over head in the tower and watch the beam casting it's light out over the gulf.

Inside the Keeper's House Museum, shipwreck archaeologist Franklin Price had a packed room for his scoop on the methods of underwater surveying of all sorts of submerged historic discoveries.  

Also in the museum, Ken Horne displayed exquisite specimens of scrimshaw and explained the process of this ancient art of engraving images on the teeth and tusks of marine mammals. 

 The lighthouse curator has been busy developing the keeper's work station and new artifacts that illustrate life in the 1890s were displayed for the event. The gift shop was also stocked with many new nautical items: deck prisms, books about historic lighthouses, and Tshirts showing all the lighthouses in the Florida Panhandle.

 What else could a lighthouse possibly want for its 114th birthday? Maybe a wish to have an equally magical birthday next year too!

03/11/11, 08:10 AM

Happy Birthday CLA

Free Climbing Day 


 Carrabelle Lighthouse Association celebrated its 10th anniversary, July 4, 2009.  Ruth Ann and Gus cooked up the Low Country Boil with all the fixins' including shrimp with a perfect mix of spices.  We had a beautiful big birthday cake too!!  It was a free climbing day and well over a hundred people took the steps to the top for a great view of St. George Sound.

03/11/11, 08:08 AM

Inside the Keeper‘s House Museum

Keeper's House Museum

Inside the Keeper's House Museum

We're open noon to 5:00pm Thursday through Saturday.  We have beautiful items for sale in the gift shop and the lighthouse is open for climbing every Saturday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm for $5.00.  Large group tours are welcome, but please call in advance, 850.697.2732.  Tour buses welcome.

03/11/11, 08:06 AM

Grand Opening

We will have a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the Crooked
River Lighthouse Keeper’s House Museum at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April
18, 2009.  The Carrabelle Chamber of Commerce is assisting the Carrabelle
Lighthouse Association to plan the dedication ceremony.  This date would   
open the Keeper’s House Museum one week before the Riverfront Festival   
which starts on April 25th, Florida Lighthouse Day.

The Carrabelle Lighthouse Association will be selling discount tickets to
climb the Crooked River Lighthouse at the Riverfront Festival on Florida
Lighthouse Day, April 25th.  The discount ticket price will be $3.00 or 2
for $5.00.

The Museum will be open for tours after the ribbon cutting on April 18.
There will be a ribbon cutting reception in the museum with light snacks
and finger foods.  The museum will also be open from noon to 5:00 p.m. on
Sunday, April 19.

Starting the following week, the Crooked River Lighthouse Museum will be
open from noon to 5:00 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.  You will be able to
climb the Crooked River Lighthouse on Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. till 4:00
p.m.  The normal cost for climbing the Crooked River Lighthouse is $5.00
per person, except on Saturday, April 25, Florida  Lighthouse Day.


The following Crooked River Lighthouse climbing rules will be enforced:

Crooked River Lighthouse Climbing Rules - adopted 12/03/08

The following regulations are in effect for climbing the Crooked River
Lighthouse so you can enjoy your visit and be safe.

Who can climb?

You must be 44" tall to climb the lighthouse. An adult must accompany
children age 12 or older who meet the height requirement.

Know your limitations! If you have any health conditions that might impact
your ability to climb, please don't try it. There are no landings. Drink
plenty of liquids before and after you climb. Remember, there are 138
steps. The top flight is very narrow.

You must watch your step and be alert. No flip-flops, bare feet, or high
heels are
allowed. Steps may be slippery. Use the handrail.

What can a person carry during the climb?

ONLY A CAMERA IS PERMITTED. No food or drinks and no smoking is allowed in
the lighthouse. No pets, no bags of any kind and no carrying of children
is allowed. Cell phone use in the tower is also not allowed.

How much does it cost to climb the tower?

$5.00 per person

Watch for insects.

Do not throw anything from the top of the tower.

The tower will be closed in inclement weather at the discretion of the

Limit of 5 people in the tower at one time. There may be a wait to climb.
Please limit your time at the top to 10 minutes to allow others to enjoy the

03/11/11, 08:05 AM

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Part Visit


Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

L to R: The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Volunteer Guide in the Lantern Room shares the history of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse restoration with Maryann Shields and Arlene Oehler.

Arlene Oehler, Barbara Revell, Maryann Shields, Debbie Kent and Mary Katzer, members of the Carrabelle Lighthouse Association, attended the Florida Lighthouse Association Meeting recently held at Ponce Inlet, Florida.. During the business meeting, members approved a strategic plan for the organization which emphasized the sale of the Florida Lighthouse Association license plate, Save Our Lights. In order to keep the specialty license plate available, 1000 have to be sold during the first year. The additional $25 for the specialty plate, which is tax deductible, will provide sustained funding for the remaining 30 historic lighthouses in Florida. FLA will allocate the finds to the lighthouses through a grant process. Because FLA is an all-volunteer organization, all but the funds needed for marketing the plate will go to lighthouse preservation. Legislation creating the specialty plate was co-sponsored in the Florida House of Representatives by former District 10 Rep. Will Kendrick and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Crist earlier this year.

The highlight of the meeting was a trip to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Park. Participants were able to climb the lighthouse at night. The Ponce Inlet 1933 rotating third order Lens has been completely restored by the Lens restoration team and was returned to active service in the tower in 2004. The station is a private aid to navigation and a National Historical Landmark. The lighthouse is the tallest in Florida and the second tallest in the nation.

The Ayres Davies Lens Exhibit Building on the grounds was begun in 1994 and completed in 1995. It houses one of the finest collections of restored Fresnel lenses in the world, including the rotating first order Fresnel Lens from the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse which was restored and put on display in 1995 and the newly restored Ponce Inlet Lighthouse first order Fresnel lens which was restored and put on display in 2003. The museum curator, Ellen Henry, described Fresnel lens restoration in a power point presentation.


03/11/11, 08:03 AM