This is a quick 'hike' we took after touring neighboring Fort Pulaski. The 0.8-mile trail leaves from the eastern side of the fort and out through a small maritime woods to the marshes which the light sits just offshore of. The walk was pretty but otherwise unremarkable, the light however has its own story to tell...
The Cockspur Island Lighthouse was completed in 1849 to provide safe passage for ships entering and exiting the Savannah River. Its first years of service were exciting, to say the least. After surviving a fairly serious hurricane in 1854 the winds of war blew into the Savannah River in late 1861. Union forces arrived at nearby Tybee Island and began constructing batteries of cannon to be used against nearby Fort Pulaski. The Cockspur Island Light sat directly amid the line of fire between the fort and its attackers. For 30 hours on April 11-12, 1862 over 5,000 shots were fired at Fort Pulaski directly over the lighthouse. Incredibly the light survived unscathed.
The light re-entered service after the war and operated uneventfully for years following. Housing the keepers of the light was a bit more problematic, however. The original keepers building burned in 1880 and was swept away by a hurricane in 1881. It was decided to house the keeper in a few remodeled casemates inside Fort Pulaski but life in those quarters was so undesirable that the government built a new keepers house...directly atop Fort Pulaski's parapet! Talk about unique living conditions! The lighthouse continued operating uneventfully until 1909 when it was decommissioned. The Coast Guard abandoned it in 1949. Fortunately for the light the National Park Service purchased it as part of Fort Pulaski National Monument in 1958. Today the lighthouse remains, though now its a couple hundred yards off-shore. In recent years it has been discovered erosion and aquatic creatures eating at the foundation timbers are threatening its stability. Hopefully it can be restored so it can be enjoyed for years to come...
Mileage Hiked: 1.7 miles
Hike Duration: 1:00
Trailhead Temp: 55'F
Min. Elevation: 0 ft.
Max. Elevation: 10'