JUPITER, Fla. — The replacement of the U.S. Highway 1 Bridge in Jupiter has caused traffic congestion and added delays for commuters.
But traffic is not the only frustration, protecting the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse's rare, irreplicable lenses is of high concern.
The operators of the lighthouse have taken precautionary measures to protect the glass prisms with foam during construction. Vibrations caused by pile driving could cause irrevocable damage.
"We have a vibration sensor at the top of the lighthouse and all of the prisms of the lens are wrapped protectively," Katrina Heller, executive director of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, said. "The lens is from 1866 and it is one of only 13 active lenses of the First-Order Fresnel ... and it is irreplaceable."
While the lenses are wrapped, the lighthouse will not be illuminated at night. In the meantime, the Coast Guard has installed a "modern LED beacon" for mariners.
"The light is not shining at night like it normally does," Heller said. "But as soon as those vibrations are done, that pile driving is done, the light will be reilluminated."
There is not a set date for the lighthouse to shine again, but the operators are hopeful it can happen safely later this year.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Fun Facts
- It sits atop a 120-acre natural area
- Four bodies of water can be seen from the lighthouse (Atlantic Ocean, Indian River, Loxahatchee River and the Jupiter Inlet)
- It was first lit on July 10, 1860
- The tower is 108 feet tall
- It sits on a 48-foot natural dune for a total of 156 feet
- There are 105 cast iron stairs (100 of which are original)
- There are three landings
- The lens is reputed to be the oldest existing first-order Fresnel lens in Florida
- There is a smaller-than-expected bulb that posers the lighthouse and a second bulb rotates into position as a backup
- The lighthouse is the oldest building in Palm Beach County
- You can hike the nature trails around the lighthouse
- Tours are available year-round and the schedule changes during the busy season
- You can launch your kayak or paddle board from the shore
- It's a great viewing area to see manatees, dolphins and fish
- The lighthouse's historians are in charge of keeping track of history for Jupiter and Tequesta