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CK lightsation open for tours this weekend

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By The Staff

 

The Cedar Key Light Station, a no longer active lighthouse, will be open for public tours this weekend from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

One of the highest points in the Gulf of Mexico, the facility on Seahorse Key sits atop a 54-foot high dune. It is only open twice a year, once during the summer and again for the Cedar Key Seafood Feast.  The remainder of the year the island is a research station leased by the University of Florida. 

The lighthouse itself is no longer active as a lighthouse. The lens has been removed from the tower. A photo of the lens hangs on the wall inside the lighthouse next to the spiral stairs leading up into the tower. The tower is not a tall one. The height of the hill makes that unnecessary. Two short flights of stairs ends at a short door leading out to a widow's walk that goes all the way around the tower. On a clear day, Cedar Key is plainly visible in the distance. Looking out toward the Gulf of Mexico, the power station at Crystal River is also visible.

The island is a haven for nesting birds and is managed by the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. Seahorse Key is only accessible by boat and tour boats are available to take visitors out to the island for a fee. The boat vendors are located along the seawall overlooking City Park beach and by the marina and boat launch. 

Visitors to the lighthouse will find re-enactors who will tell them about life on the island and will be allowed to ask questions, climb the tower, walk along the beach and visit the cemetery.

They will tell “the tales of the light station” and its challenges, as well as the history of the two cemeteries on the island, both Civil War sailors’ and light keepers.

The island abounds with juvenile and adult birds, such as brown pelicans, ibis, cormorants, herons, reddish egrets, eagles and osprey 

You can take a tour boat from the city dock, rent a vessel or take your own out to the island for this rare opportunity.