Located roughly three miles from
the Mobile Bay entrance, between Mobile Point on the east and Dauphin
Island on the west, stands Sand Island Lighthouse on a narrow strip
of land that was once 400 acres.
In 1837, Congress allocated $10,000 and Winslow Lewis began construction
on Alabama’s first and only seacoast light. It stood 55 feet tall
and had 14 lamps in 16 inch reflectors that could be seen for roughly
15 miles at night.
In 1839, for $500 per year, John McCloud was hired as the first
As the years went by, the land around Sand Island Light was slowly
eroding away. It was apparent by the 1850s, there was a need for
a new lighthouse.
In 1858, under the direction of Army Engineer Danville Leadbetter,
a conical brick tower was constructed and the tallest lighthouse
to be built proudly displayed its 1st order Fresnel lens in 1859.
Two years later the Confederate soldiers discovered Yankees in the
tower spying on Ft. Morgan and the structure was blasted into the
After the destruction, a wooden tower 48 feet high was built and
it marked Sand Island from 1864 to 1873.
In September of 1873, a new 125 foot lighthouse was in operation.
Shortly, a two story keepers’ house was built. By 1880, the foundation
was breaking apart due to erosion. Jetties were extended and by
1888, 10 feet of sand separated the lighthouse from the sea. Granite
was added around the base and 10 years later, 6,000 or more tons
In 1901, the keepers’ house was torn down and a smaller dwelling
was built. The lighthouse was manned with two keepers and their
wives and a few days before the 1906 hurricane struck, one of the
keepers went to shore. The hurricane took the light out and the
remaining keeper and wives were gone...never to be found.
A second hurricane struck in 1919. A landing party was sent to see
why the light was out but they found the station deserted. A log
which kept the daily activities of the keepers stated that the had
gone to pick up a new employee. They were never found and it was
assumed that their boat had overturned in the rough seas returning
to the lighthouse.
In 1921, the lighthouse was automated and was deactivated 11 years
In 1971, the second-order Fresnel lens was removed and placed in
the Ft. Morgan Museum, where it is kept today.
In 1973, the keepers' house burned down.
Today, the lighthouse is owned by the residents of Dauphin Island
where an extensive restoration process is beginning. The Alabama
Lighthouse Association continues its support for the restoration
of this historical landmark.
1837 constructed Alabama's first seacoast light.
1859 Photo Showing
Sitting On approx.
1884 Photo Showing
Two Story Lighthouse
1950 Photo Showing
House Built 1925
1962 Looking From SW
House Burned 1973