Editor’s note: This is another in a continuing series on local pioneers and local history. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at the beginnings, the building specifications, for lighthouses in the area.

These next few weeks, I'll be sharing some letters about our local lighthouses.

This could not have been completed without giving "thanks" first to Mark Curenton and the Apalachicola Historical Society. Several years ago Mark let Marlene Womack and I go through boxes of old papers found in the cottage at the Raney House in Apalachicola.

These boxes covered many areas of local history, one folder covering our lighthouses, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to copy these files.

Since we have been so concerned about saving Cape San Blas Lighthouse lately, I thought that this would be the perfect time to share this past history of another time that the lighthouse had to be saved. My first story will start with Dog Island Lighthouse. Most of the papers cover proposals of bids for rebuilding the lighthouses between the Treasury Department and the Superintendent of Lights; what I like is that the papers tell you how they want them built. Here are the letters for Dog Island.



November 18, 1851

PROPOSALSwill be at, this Office, until the 8th day of December, proximo, at 12 o'clock M,. for furnishing materials and erecting, on Dog Island, in Florida, a LIGHT HOUSE 49 feet in height, of the following materials, dimensions and descriptions, viz:,


Foundations:The earth to be excavated to a depth of 2 feet below the surface, at which depth it is to be carefully leveled off and to be 22 feet in diameter.

Pilings: Within the pit excavated as above. there are to be driven two rows of piles disposed in circles; diameter of outside row, from center to center, 16 feet; diameter of inside row, from centre to centre, 11 1/2feet; outside row to be composed of 22 piles; inside row to be composed of 16 piles; the piles to be so driven that the inner piles shall come opposite the openings between the outer piles. The original surface of the ground. The piles to be of sound seasoned oak, not less than 9 nor more than 16 inches _____. The piles to be driven 7 feet below the bottom of the excavated pit.

Grillage:A grillage, composed of sound, well-seasoned yellow pine timber, 8 by 12 inches, to be pinned with oak treenails, 2 inches diameter, on the heads of the piles. The timbers to be notched 1 1/2 inch , each over the other. The timbers to be laid with the 12 inches horizontally, and to have 12 inches space between them. The space between the timbers to be filled with clean gravel, hard rammed.-- Upon the tops of the timbers, and at right angles to them, there is to be a flooring of plank 4 inches thick, of sound,  well-seasoned yellow pine, laid edge to edge, and well treenailed to the grillage timbers, by oak treenails 1 1/2 in diameter and 9 inches long. All the treenails to have their heads wedged after being driven. The diameter of the grillage, from outside to outside to be 19 feet.

Walls:The walls of the tower to be composed of the first quality hard bummed brick, laid in the best hydraulic Rosendale cement, every fourth course of brick to be headers through the wall. The mortar to be composed of equal parts of cement and sharp clean sand. No mortar to be used after it has been mixed 8 hours. The wall to be circular in plan, outside diameter at the base on the grillage, 17 feet; thickness at base 3 feet. Outside diameter at the top under the copings, 12 feet. Thickness under coping 2 foot. Height of wall from the top of grillage to under side copings, 40 feet.

Doors: The tower to have  one door 6 feet by 3 feet broad in clear. Sill to be out of cut granite or compact limestone, 8 inches thick; Lintel of the same material 10 inches thick; Jambs of the same material, 7 inches thick. Sill, Lintel and Jambs to have a rebate of 1/2 inches cut in for wooden door. The wooden door to be composed of well-seasoned white pine, to be 3 inches thick, double battened and well nailed, to be provided with two composition hinges, lock and bolt; hinge pintals to be well leaded in the jambs. The sills, lintel and jambs to extend through the wall, the sill and lintel lapping on the jambs.

Flooring: The interior of the tower to be filed up to the bottom of the door sill with clean pebbles and fragments of rock, and carefully leveled off; on this to be laid 6 inches of concrete, composed of part stone, broken to egg size, one part Rosendale cement, and two parts sand. On this concrete a brick flooring is to be laid in cement, 3 inches thick, with its upper side on a level with the top of the sill.

Windows: The tower to have four windows, the top of the top window to be on a level with the springing line of the dome. The sashes and frames to be of clear, sound, well-seasoned white pine. Each window to be glazed with 8 panes of 12x12 inches best quality German glass. The frames to be rebated in a cut granite or compost limestone sill, lintel and jambs, the sill and lintel to lap on the jambs, rebate 1 1/2 inch deep. Thickness of sill, lintel and rebate, 6 inches, all to extend through the wall.

Dome: Immediately beneath the coping, the underside of which is touched by the extrados of the dome, is to be sprung a brick dome, 8 inches thick, radius of extrados, 5 feet. Height of inside dome, from springing line, 3 feet 9 feet inches.

Coping: The tower to be coped with soapstone 4 inches thick, the pieces composing the outer circle to extend 4 inches within the lantern posts. Exterior diameter of coping 13 1/2 feet. The spandrels between copings and dome to be filled with brick, carefully laid in mortar.

Stairs:The stairs to be of the best quality of white pine, 2 inches thick, to be sound, well-seasoned and free of knots; to have 8 inches rise and 15 inches tread at the walls; the tread to project 1 1/2 inch over the riser; thread and riser to be let 4 inches into the wall at one end and fastened to a hollow newel 8 inches square, of the same material, at the other end. The newel to have a hinge door at top and bottom 5x24 inches. The newel to rise through the tower coping to receive the descending weight.

Upper Floor: An upper floor to be laid in the top of the tower, top of floor 7 1/2 feet below crown of same. Floor to be composed of white pine timbers 6x8 inches, covered with two thicknesses of 1 inch pine board, well nailed, planned, tongued and grooved at right angles to each other. Floor to fill 2/3 of the circle. Stairs to reach from brick paving at bottom of tower, to top of upper floor. Material all of best quality. A scuttle 22 inches square in clear to be made in coping and dome of cast iron 1 inch thick with 1 inch flange let into coping flush on top and with bottom curved to shape of dome. Scuttle rebated at top for door 1 1/2 inch thick, white pine covered with sheet copper and fitted with ____ and fastenings.

Ladder:A wrought iron ladder to extend from top of upper floor to scuttle, sides of 3 by 1/4 inch, steps 1 1/2 inch diameter shouldered against sides and riveted over, steps 9 inches apart, ladder 22 inches wide from outside of sides. All wood work of the tower to be well painted in 3 coats of yellow ochre and oil. All brick work, without and within to be white washed with two coats of lime.

Lantern:The lantern is to be 16 feet diameter, from outside to outside of angle posts, to be 8 sided.

Angle Posts:8 in number, to be wrought iron, 1 1/2 by 3 inches, set with the 3 inches pointing to the centre, to be 9 1/2 feet long above the copings and to be let in the walls of the tower 3 feet below copings, making total length 12 1/2 feet.--To be rebated 1 1/4 inch deep and 5-16 inch broad for glass.

Lower Panels:Of cast iron filling, the space between angle posts to be made 3/4 inch thick, with flanges at top, bottom and sides, 3 inches wide all over, flush side to be placed outside. Panels to be 21 inches high, each with a 3 inches diameter ventilator in centre, and to be secured with 2 one inch blots and nuts at top and bottom, passing through one single post and two panels. All the joints between coping and panels, and between panel and single posts, to be made of white and red lead mixed with oil--to be rebated like single posts on tops to receive glass.

Upper Panels:In all respects to be like the lower panels, excepting only in height, which is to be 9 inches, and in having a gutter 5 inches deep and broad cast on it. Top of upper panel to be on same level with top of posts, to be rebated like angle post on bottom to receive glass.

Rafters: 8 wrought iron rafters, to be 2 inches deep by 1 1/2 broad, to extend from top of angle posts to a wrought iron circle 20 inches diameter, 2 by 2/4 inches thick. Rafter to be secured to angle post by T heads, 2/4 inch blots, and to circle in same manner.

Roofing: To be covered with copper, 32 oz. to the square foot, double capped, and to be made water tight; to be bent down into gutter and well riveted there, and also to be well riveted to bottom of ventilator.

Ventilator:One of Emerson's patent Ventilator, 20 inches diameter, 4 1/2 feet high, to be well secured on top of wrought iron circle.

Sash Bars: 8 wrought iron Sash Bars, 1 1/4 inches deep by 2 inches wide, to be placed midway between top of lower panel and bottom of upper panel, so as to divide each side into equal panes of glass; sash bar to be secured to angle posts by T and 2/4 inch bolts and nuts, to be rebated on upper and under side, like angle posts for glass.

Door: One of the lower panes of glass to be set in a wrought iron frame, fitted with hinges and fastenings, and hung for a door.

Railing: The lantern to be surrounded by a wrought iron railing, composed of 8 post, 1 inch by 3 inch, set opposite to angle post with three inches pointing centre. The lower end of railing post to be well leaded in coping, 2 inches deep and 4 inches from edge, thence curving sharply out to a diameter of 13 1/4 feet; thence perpendicular for a height of 5 1/2 feet above coping; thence curving in on a radius of 1 3/4 feet to the angle post. to which it is  to be secured by a T head and blot. There is to be two railing bars of 1 1/3 inch diameter extending around the lantern, the top of the lower one to be 21 inches above coping, the upper one to be placed directly in front of each sash bar. All the iron and copper work to be painted on the outside, with one coat of red lead and oil and two coats of chrome green and oil and all the iron and copper work to be painted on the inside with three coats white lead and oil.

Glazing: The lantern to be glazed with 16 panes (2 to each side) of the best quality French plate glass of such size as will fill the before specified sides, and to be 1/4 inch thick. The glass to be secured by putty and lead pins, 1/4 inch diameter, 6 lead pins to a pane.     

Conductor: A copper electrical rod, 2/4 inch diameter, to extend 3 feet above the ventilator of lantern, with forked tops  and to reach four feet below surface of ground, turning off from tower obliquely when within 10 feet of bottom.

Gutters: A copper gutter o oval form, 1 2/4 by 2 inches to descend from the cast iron gutter, along one angle post to the coping.

The entire work is to be completed on or before the first day of May, 1852, to the satisfaction and approval of the Superintendents of Lights at Apalachicola, Florida or of such person as may be appointed for the purpose of examining the same.

No payment to be made to the contractor until the work shall be completed in a faithful and workman like manner, in accordance with the terms of the contract,

Separate proposals will be received during and approved as above. the same period, for furnishing materials and erecting at Cape St. George. Florida, a lighthouse, 65 feet in height, singular to the one above described, subject to the same conditions and the work being approved also by the Superintendent of Lights at Apalachicola.

Collector and Superintendent of Lights.

Next week we'll cover Cape San Bas & Cape St. George Lighthouse, all dated 1847 - 1851.