Natural Disasters

Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place? The Pensacola Lighthouse was zapped in 1874, and then struck again the following year. The tower’s lightning rod was shown to be defective, as the surge of electricity melted metal fixtures in the lighthouse. Nature took another swipe at the lighthouse on August 31, 1886, when a rare earthquake shook the tower. A keeper penned the following report on the earthquake: “It lasted between three and four minutes, and was accompanied by a rumbling, as if people were ascending the steps making as much noise as possible. This shock was like a tremor, causing the lens to vibrate from side to side. The pendulum clock on the lower floor was stopped by the shock at 9:07 p.m.”

In the period between the lightning strikes and the earthquake, cracks were discovered in the tower. It was thought that they might have been caused by the shot the tower received during the Civil War coupled with the strain from subsequent hurricanes. The Lighthouse Board acted quickly to re-point the tower from top to bottom.