1. Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum
On the northern side of the Jupiter Inlet, in Jupiter, Florida, is where you can find the Jupiter Inlet Light. In 1853, a location for the lighthouse was selected. It is situated halfway between Hillsboro Inlet Light and Cape Canaveral Light. George G. Meade, a Lieutenant in the Bureau of Topographical Engineers at the time, created the lighthouse. Lieutenant William Raynolds subsequently made changes to Meade’s design. All building supplies had to be transported down the Indian River in light boats after the Jupiter Inlet became completely blocked by silt in 1854. Between 1856 and 1858, work was halted by the Third Seminole War. Under the direction of Captain Edward A. Yorke, the lighthouse was finished in 1860 for a price of more than $60,000.
On a hill that was once believed to be an Indian shell mound or midden (and occasionally falsely claimed to be a burial mound), the lighthouse was built, but it has since been discovered that the hill is actually a natural parabolic sand dune. The 105-foot tower rises 153 feet above sea level at its highest point. At sea, the light is visible from 24 nautical miles away. The brick lighthouse structure has two masonry walls. The conical exterior wall has a thickness of eight bricks at ground level and 31.5 inches at the base of the lantern, tapering to three bricks at that point. The interior is completely two bricks thick and cylindrical. The circumference is 65 feet at the base and 43 feet at the top. In 1910, the lighthouse was painted red to cover humidity-related discoloration. After being sandblasted by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004, the tower’s upper portion was repainted with a potassium silicate mineral coating.
Address: 500 Captain Armour’s Way Jupiter, FL 33469
2. Jupiter Inlet Shipwrecks
The Jupiter Beach Park is where you can find this marker. On April 2, 2013, it was placed at the Jupiter inlet in honor of all the sailors who had traveled through it. Many Spanish galleons and merchant ships capsized off the coast during the 17th century, leaving behind a treasure trove of gold, silver, cannons, anchors, flatware, and navigational aids. This region of Florida is known as the Treasure Coast because of the wealth they left behind.
The San Miguel Arcangel, one of the most well-known ships, is believed to have sunk in 1659 or 1660 while attempting to enter the inlet during a storm off the coast of Jupiter. The ship, an aviso, carried treasure as well as letters to the Spanish court. Peter Leo, a local lifeguard, found the wreck in 1987. While swimming, he came across the cannons in the sand. Eventually, flatware, musket and cannon balls, gold and silver coins, a copper pot, and flatware were found. Six of the cannons are still there, lying on the ground.
Jupiter wants people to learn more about the history of this region, so it has installed this marker along with others. An anchor and cannons are in front of the nearby historic Dubois House, which is across from this marker. The Jupiter Lighthouse Museum has more information on the local shipwrecks. The Shipwreck Bar and Grill, a neighborhood eatery on Dixie Highway, is decorated to honor the sunken Spanish Galleons and their spilled treasure off the coast.
3. Jupiter Ridge Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area
Across the street from the Jupiter Lighthouse is the 120 acre Jupiter Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area. It has a parking lot of its own. This land served as a buffer around the Jupiter Lighthouse when it was constructed in 1860, and little of it was developed. Congress designated this natural area in 2008 “for the preservation, protection and enhancement of seven key resources and values found on the site, among which are the exceptional biodiversity and rich history of the site.” The area is the only National Conservation Lands east of the Mississippi River and the only one in the Eastern United States that is under Bureau of Land Management management.
The 26 species of particular concern have been recorded in four biologically sensitive areas of this natural area. An ancient coastal dune that is a part of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge is crossed by this natural area. Because they are at the highest elevation, which is where builders wanted to do their construction when they were building the Treasure Coast, it contains some of Florida’s most endangered scrub habitats. As a result, Florida, which is home to endangered species like gopher tortoises and scrub jays, has lost many of its scrub preserves. The preservation of the land is crucial because there are some plants and animals that can only be found in a biologically significant scrub habitat. Invasive plant species were eliminated and native ones replaced in order to get the preserve ready to open. Saw palmetto, Chapman oaks, and scrub oak are all expected today. One of Florida’s biggest council trees can be found in this natural area.
There is proof of human habitation here dating back more than 5,000 years, where the Loxahatchee River and Indian River Lagoon meet. The north trail is wheelchair accessible because it is paved. A natural surface trail that leads to Lighthouse Park is located south of the lighthouse, across the street from it. This region served as a U.S. intelligence spy base during World War II with a covert radio base that tracked German U-boats.
On both sides of the road, the trail extends for 1.5 miles. The Florida Scrub habitat, a tropical hammock, and a mangrove swamp are just a few of the native and restored coastal habitats that the trail passes through as it leaves the parking lot on the north side. A quarter mile later, it comes to an end at a tower with a view of three Florida habitats that serve as a manatee refuge and are encircled by red mangrove trees. A view of the Indian River Lagoon is available. The journey back is challenging. Keep in mind that the trail can get very hot because there is no shade on it until you reach the observation tower.
4. Jupiter-Lake Worth Railway / Celestial Railway
It took quite a while to get from Titusville to Jupiter, then on to Palm Beach and other southern destinations in 1885. Steamboats had to be used for the entire journey, but once you got to Jupiter’s port and wanted to continue to Juno Beach’s port, you had to rely on freight wagons drawn by oxen for 7.5 miles over a rough road. On June 8, 1887, it was announced that the Jupiter Lake Worth Railway, the tiniest railway lane in the world, would be constructed from Juno Beach to the Jupiter Lighthouse in order to solve this issue. On July 4, 1889, the 3 foot narrow gauge railroad line was put into service.
The train pointed towards Juno and then reversed its direction to return to Jupiter because the railroad lacked turning tracks. The engineer whistled the wood-burning steam engine and it played “Dixie” to warn the waiting passengers. At the time, a one-way ride cost 75 cents, which was regarded as expensive. A writer who visited the railway in 1893 gave it the name Celestial Railroad, and it had stations at Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Juno.
With Henry Flagler’s arrival in Florida, the railway’s demise was announced. He initially paid the railroad to transport his construction materials because he wanted to build the Royal Poinciana Hotel in Palm Beach. He tried to buy the railway outright but they wanted too much money so he built his own over the Loxahatchee River to avoid Jupiter and Juno Beach because he was tired of paying what he felt was an excessive price. In 1894, Flagler completed his railroad, and by June 1896, the Jupiter and Lake Worth Railway’s train had been sold at auction and the railroad had been abandoned.
At the site where the railroad once crossed close to Guanabanas Restaurant, all that is left of the railroad today are a few spikes in Jupiter’s dunes and this historical marker, which was dedicated in 2017.