Tybee Island - Georgia
Situated by the Atlantic Ocean past Savannah lies the sleepy resort town of Tybee Island. The name "Tybee" is said to be derived from the Indian phrase for salt. In 1520, the island was "discovered" by the Spanish. Over the next several hundred years, several flags would fly over the island. The first settlers who arrived here actually predated those at Jamestown. Incorporation came in 1887, as the name Ocean City, which was used until the name Tybee became popular.
The head of the new British colony, General James Oglethorpe, was instrumental in the construction of the first lighthouse in Georgia, which was located on Tybee Island.
The Tybee Island Lighthouse today is known as being the tallest in the state, and includes surrounding historic structures, such as the Headkeeper's House, and the Summer Kitchen (run your mouse over the photograph here to view). The Summer Kitchen, which dates to 1812, is one of the oldest buildings in the county of Chatham.
The lighthouse has been replaced on four occasions as improvements have been made, and due to being near the Atlantic Ocean.
The present brick and cast iron lighthouse was built in 1867, and stands at 154 feet high (the first one was 90 feet high) with a large prism Fresnel lens. The first 60 feet of the lighthouse that was built in 1773 was used as a base for the one built in 1867.
Pictured here is an inside view near the upper watch room gallery located at the height of the lighthouse.
The first order Fresnel lens installed in 1867 from France, is one of only thirteen that are used by lighthouses in the country. At the base reads "Henry Lepaute A Paris". It uses a 1,000 watt electric light bulb.
Up until 1933, a kerosene oil burning lantern was used for the lighthouse, and required three lightkeepers to take turns climbing the 178 stairs to the top. The director of the Lighthouse, Cullen Chambers, is known for his preservation efforts with the St. Augustine Lighthouse, in Florida. The lighthouse is supported by the Tybee Island Historical Society.
The Tybee Island Museum is housed across the street within an 1898 Coastal Artillary Battery, and contains many interesting local artifacts and military exhibits. Also situated here was Fort Screven, built in 1875 and used through World War II. Houses have been built above some the remains of the fort.
The Georgia coast has other lighthouses, including the Sapelo Island Lighthouse, St. Simons Island Lighthouse, and the Cockspur Island Lighthouse at Fort Pulaski. During a dolphin tour, we were able to view the Cockspur Island Lighthouse. Unfortunately, it is not being actively maintained by the government, and the base is damaged and the steps have now fallen into the ocean. There is a national preservation program for lighthouses which hopefully will be able to preserve as part of our national heritage.
Plan to spend at least a week exploring the island and Savannah area. While travelling here, we stayed at Rivers End RV Resort, the only campground on the island.
Also, plan to take an entertaining dolphin cruise as we did aboard the Lazaretto Creek Dolphin Cruise.
Continue on to read about Savannah and Fort Pulaski.