The First Ship Island Lighthouse
The Mississippi Sound, known for its shallow dark waters, can be a treacherous area for vessels navigating between Mobile and New Orleans. Shifting shoals and storms complicated travel by ships along this stretch of barrier islands and mainland coast. However, commercial shipping traffic was vital to survival along the Mississippi gulf coast, thus requiring the government to provide navigational aids and beacons.
The Second Ship Island Lighthouse
In 1885, shoreline erosion made the first Ship Island Lighthouse inoperable, and the beacon was abandoned. Plans for a new beacon were already underway. At 75 feet, the new wooden structure was fitted with the old lighthouse’s pedestal and Fresnel 4th Order Lens. The Second Ship Island Lighthouse was illuminated in September 1886 and served until 1957. Although it survived numerous storms and strong hurricanes, the wooden tower was accidently set on fire by campers and destroyed in 1972.
Exhibit Lighthouse at Ship Island
Area residents mourned the loss of the historic structure. Eventually, a proposal was initiated and approved to build a replica-styled exhibit. Through funding support of the Friends of Gulf Islands National Seashore and construction provided by the Seabees of the U.S. Naval Construction Battalion in Gulfport, the second Ship Island Light’s outer exhibit shell was designed. Construction of the new exhibit started in 1998 and was capped off when a Coast Guard helicopter placed the new cupola a top the tower in February 2000.
(2005, June). Ship Island Lighthouses. Mississippi, United States: Gulf Islands National Seashore, National Park Service.
Visit West Ship Island
Last updated: March 4, 2020