American Shoal Lighthouse

Sugarloaf Key, Florida - 1880 (1880**)

Photo of the American Shoal Lighthouse.

History of the American Shoal Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Board had continually asked for a lighthouse to be built on American Shoal, it wasn't until 1878 that Congress would appropriate the money needed. The lighthouse was originally built by Phoenix Iron Company in Trenton, New Jersey and shipped south to the Florida Keys. It was put into place by Looe Key. The Key was named after a Frigate of the British Royal Navy that struck the reef and sunk. Like many of the other ships cruising the straits of Florida, it was here to fight the rampant piracy. The story is as follows:

It was February of 1744 and the Loo had just recovered Billander Betty which was a British ship that had been seized by the Spanish pirates in the area. The Loo had easily over powered the Betty and had recaptured her. Fearing retaliation from the pirates, they decided to make a run for the what is now the Carolinas. They never made it. Both ships had struck the reef, and were completely destroyed from the pounding surf.

Here is a very good close-up shot of the American Shoal Lighthouse from the US Coast Guard Archives.

Directions: This lighthouse sits off shore in the Atlantic Ocean. So best views are by boat. However, via land, the best view of the lighthouse would be at mile marker 17. This one is a little tricky to find. Off of US1, you will be looking for Sugarloaf Blvd (Route 939). Make a left onto it and follow it for about two and a half miles. Once you reach the end of this, you will be forced to make a right onto Route 939A. Follow this for about another 2.5 miles until you reach a little bridge over a canal.

View more American Shoal Lighthouse pictures
Tower Information
Tower Height: 109.00'
Focal Plane: 109'
Active Aid to Navigation: Yes
*Latitude: 24.52500 N
*Longitude: -81.52000 W
See this lighthouse on Google Maps.


* Please note that all GPS coordinates are approximated and are meant to put you in the vicinity of the lighthouse, not for navigation purposes.

** This year denotes a station date. This is the year that a lighthouse was first reported in the vicinity or at that location.

All photographs and information on this site is copyright © 2016 Bryan Penberthy unless otherwise specified. No content may be used without written permission. Any questions or comments, please email me.