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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:United States / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:288
  • eBook ISBN:9781618500243

A Light in the Wilderness:

The Story of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Southeast Florida Frontier

by James D. Snyder

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How today's coastal strip of 7 million people began just a few generations ago when bears, panthers and alligators roamed and ruled. When the lighthouse was built in 1860, it became a hub for hunters, surveyors, Civil War blockade runners, Union gunboats and pioneer farmers. With steamboats and railroads came a wave of settlers and the first trappings of a "real town." 


Highlights of A Light in the Wilderness: 

  • The first "settlement." The U.S. army builds two camps on the Loxahatchee to push back marauding Seminole Indians. How soldiers tried to open the fickle Jupiter Inlet with shovels and rakes.
  • The wreckers of Key West. How they provided the only lifesaving service available to imperiled ships. Why Congress authorized lighthouses on the Florida coast.
  • The lighthouse builders. How George Meade and other hardy army engineers labored to create a chain of beacons on brittle reefs and open seas. Why Jupiter Inlet was by far the most difficult project of all.
  • The Civil War on the Florida coast. The state's desperate plight. The "kidnapping" of the newly-installed Jupiter Light works as Florida abandoned all of its coastal defenses.
  • The Gunboat Years. How sleek Confederate sloops "ran" the inlets of southeast Florida in desperate attempts to haul cargoes of cotton and turpentine to Nassau and trade for weapons and food —and how Union gunboats tracked them down.
  • Early life at Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Hard scrabbling on supplies that arrived only once or twice a year. How life was sustained by spectacular hunting and fishing and shipwrecks whose cargoes could change a hardscrabble life overnight with bounty from the sea.
  • The first brave farmers How they carved out an inlet and built a thousand-foot tramway of beached lumber to link Lake Worth and the creek that led north to Jupiter. How they shipped their first crops in boxes made from driftwood.
  • The paddle wheel steamer era. The emergence of steamboat trade up and down the Indian River. How it transformed Jupiter, at the southern end, into a settlement with a floating hotel, stores and a thriving little resort.
About the author

Jim Snyder spent some 30 years in Washington, DC as a governmental affairs writer and magazine publisher before moving to Jupiter, FL in 1991. Since making his family home along its wild and scenic river, he has authored several books on its rich, 5,000-year-old history. Snyder has served as board chairman of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum and has held a governor's appointment to the Florida Historical Commission. He now serves on the governing board of the Loxahatchee River District, which is responsible for maintaining the river's water quality.  

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