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Keys' lighthouses wrecked the 'wreckers'
h [electronic resource] /
by Hampton Dunn.
1 online resource (2 p.) :
Title from caption on PDF of p.1 (viewed July 8, 2010).
At head of title: Photouring Florida.
Typescript of Photouring Florida column that describes lighthouses in Key West.
Key West (Fla.)
x Description and travel.
t Hampton Dunn Photouring Florida collection.
d09 KEYS' LIGHTHOUSES WRECKED THE 'WRECKERS' By HAMPTON DUNN KEY WEST --Back before Florida became a state in 1821 the prin cipal business was said to be "wrecking." The reefs along the keys were treacherous, and there were few navigation aids for the shi p captains. Often they were wrecked. Local islanders made a career of helping to salvage the contents of the ships. For this they demanded, and got, a huge percentage of the cargo. It is even recorded that some unscrupulous wreckers would put out false bea cons to lure ships to the reefs --instead of away from them. Thus were the conditions when Uncle Sam stepped in and expanded his lighthouse system to the keys. The tale is handed down that many Key Westers opposed installation of the lights because it s pelled the end for their highly prosperous wrecking business. In 1825 alone, $293, 353 worth of wrecked property was sold in Key West. From 1831 to 1846 the proceeds from 50 wrecks stranded in the Florida Keys totalled more than a million dollars. The fir st lighthouse in Key West was erected in 1825, survived several storms and eventually was destroyed. Others succeeded it in cluding one built in 1840 and destroyed by the hurricane of 1846. A modern lighthouse was built at a cost of $25, 000. The one serv ing Key West today sits within the city limits, the only one in the U.S. that does operate within a city. The light is 91 feet above water, has a candlepower of 50, 000 and is visible nine miles at sea. It's the farthest inland of any in the country.