St. Augustine Resident Climbs Lighthouse 40 Times for his 70th Birthday!

On Tuesday, May 19, former Marine Corps. Cpt. Peter Robertson stepped out to prove just how young he was on his 70th birthday by climbing the lighthouse 40 consecutive times. The unofficial past record of consecutive climbs was 28 made by a Lighthouse staff member, meaning that if he reached his goal that record would be obliterated.

Robertson came out that day, after nine months of training for the event, with his eye on the prize. He was determined to reach 40 climbs.

Robertson (in yellow) climbing with his trainer (in red) and a colleague from his law firm (in black).

He began climbing at 9:00 a.m.. His wife sat at the bottom of the tower, encouraging him and counting each climb. Throughout the climb, a number of people showed up to support the marine including his colleagues, family members, lighthouse staff, and more. Even people who just came to visit the Lighthouse began cheering him on as well.

After about 18 climbs, Robertson’s personal trainer from “The Fit Club” came to climb the rest of the way alongside him. He encouraged him literally every step of the way.

Robertson’s shining personality showed through throughout his climb as he kept a positive attitude, even in the heat of a humid, Florida summer day. His upbeat personality made everyone absolutely certain that he was going to make it to 40 climbs.

As he began his 35th climb, it was just past three o’clock, and the weather was beginning to look bad. Because he had been climbing for over six hours and had only five climbs to go, Robertson was determined to finish before the weather came in. Continue reading

Lighthouse History 1934-1954

This sixth installment in our ongoing series on the history of the St. Augustine Lighthouse focuses on the changeover from the oil lantern to an electric lantern and the experience of the lighthouse and keepers during World War II.

Click the links below to read previous posts in the series:


The introduction of electricity in lighthouses provided the beacons with a strong, steady light source free of the difficulties inherent in the oil lanterns that preceded this new technology. Electric lanterns required no fuel and created no soot, relieving the keepers of most of their nightly responsibilities.

The electric bulbs that illuminate the St. Augustine Lighthouse
The electric bulbs that illuminate the St. Augustine Lighthouse; if you look closely, you’ll notice that the lens has inverted the background.

Appointed Head Keeper in 1935, Cardell D. Daniels was in charge of the lighthouse when radio electrician T.A. McKee arrived in February 1936 to electrify the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Completed on March 1st, the keepers in St. Augustine were finally able to enjoy the benefits that came with the transition away from the oil lanterns. The lighthouse was the last Florida lighthouse in the Sixth District, which stretched from North Carolina to Florida’s Atlantic Coast, to receive the new electric lamp. In addition to the benefits this modernization afforded the keepers, the new lantern displayed at 20,000 candlepower, approximately 50% more powerful than the kerosene lantern and providing a more visible signal to the local maritime community. Continue reading

Lighthouse Seeks Volunteers and Docents for Boatbuilding Program

Just in time for the city’s 450th celebration, residents are invited to be part of history by volunteering with the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum’s traditional wooden boatbuilding program.

DSC02270ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – For much of St. Augustine’s early history, wooden boats were a ubiquitous part of city life. Our ancestors built these watercraft by hand, a tradition that is now being carried forward by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum’s Boatworks program.

With three projects currently underway in the boatworks, the museum is looking for additional volunteers to help with the construction as boat builders or to share the vessels’ history as volunteer docents. No previous experience is required and training will be provided for both roles.

“Volunteering with the boatworks is a great opportunity to have hands-on experience with the ancient art of boat carpentry as it was once practiced in St. Augustine using local materials,” said Dr. Sam Turner, Director of Archaeology at the museum.

The museum launched its boatworks program in 2007 to keep alive this ancient craft so closely tied to St. Augustine’s maritime past. To date, the program has built 11 vessels and restored three others, all powered by volunteers and donations. The boatworks also received a grant in 2014 from the Crisp-Ellert Fund which recognizes the boatbuilding process as a type of local folk art.

Boatbuilding volunteers will work on all aspects of the watercraft construction from start to finish, collaborating with other volunteers, historians and museum archaeologists along the way to ensure the vessels are built with historic accuracy. Volunteers in the docent role will educate museum visitors in the process of wooden boatbuilding, its history here in St. Augustine and the history behind each of the individual craft.

Volunteers are welcome to participate seasonally or year-round. Anyone interested should contact Volunteer Coordinator Loni Wellman at (904) 829-0745 ext. 213 or send an email to



A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest Port. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)3 non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is on a mission to preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port sm as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.  

Scrapbooks: Tips for Preserving Memories

photos fro record

Now is a great time to look back on 2014 by organizing photos and mementos. Family get-togethers are the perfect chance to relive the year with loved ones.

Choose the right materials and methods to scrapbook your memories. All photos and 2D material, such as letters and greeting cards, should be scanned and the digital file must kept safe, one file with the originals and another in a different place as a backup in case of disaster. Keeping one file with relatives or friends in a different geographic area is great insurance. Continue reading