Well Preserved Southern Gem – Savannah’s Tybee Lighthouse


Tybee Lighthouse_Georgia_Beach

Near Savannah, Georgia is the Island of Tybee where the immaculately preserved Light Station can be explored, courtesy of their historical society. Tybee Island was named “Savannah’s Beach” in 1950 and has long been a quiet getaway for residents of Savannah. The Island holds a strategic position near the mouth of the Savannah River which made it an ideal location for the lighthouse, first built in 1736. The lighthouse actually used to be the tallest structure in America.

Before the lighthouse was converted to run on electricity in 1933, three Light Keepers were needed to man the Light Station. They made frequent trips to the top of the lighthouse carrying fuel in large pails. Each keeper had his own house and today each of them still stand, immaculately intact.

Tybee Lighthouse_Georgia_Cottages

The main Light Keeper’s House (from a window in the lighthouse).

Tybee Lighthouse_Georgia_Sailboat in Cottage

Original pieces of art inside the Light Keeper’s house. Everything inside is untouched.

The 178 steps to the top of the lighthouse will offer an expansive view of the Savannah River, 154 feet above sea level. It’s definitely worth the trip to the top!

Tybee Lighthouse_Shrimp boat Window Tybee Lighthouse_Georgia_Stairwell window
At the top of the lighthouse you’ll see what’s called a Fresnel Lens, which uses mirrors to intensify the light (generated by a 1000 watt bulb) so it can be seen out at sea. The Lighthouse remains fully operational to this day and the light never turns off.
This is the fresnel lens which intensifies the light at the top of the lighthouse.

This is the fresnel lens which intensifies the light at the top of the lighthouse.

I also learned something totally unsuspected; Tybee has pirate history!! In 1520, the Spanish claimed Tybee Island and they named it Los Bajos. The island was frequented by pirates who used the island to hide from those who pursued them. They also used the island’s waterways as a source of fresh water. Hundreds of years and a couple major invasions later, the islands were depopulated, allowing new English settlements such as the colony of Georgia. 

Meet Suzette
suzetteI have been traveling for the better part of the last ten years in an effort to get out of my bubble. I set out to learn from other cultures and gain some understanding of the world. No matter where I go, I seek out gems off the beaten path and this site is my attempt to show you how to do the same.

Follow me on Instagram Twitter Google+.Pinterest or Facebook

Enjoyed this article? Make sure to sign up for email updates and get notified about new posts once a week.
  • Suzette Barnett

    Thanks Jay! I’m sure you’ll enjoy the views from the Lighthouse when you go back. Do you have other recommendations for gems in Savannah since you used to live there? I’d love to hear your favorites.

  • Travel Agent Jay

    Hey! Great article. Especially since I lived in Savannah for over two years and never visited that lighthouse. Passed by it numerous times when visiting Tybee Beach but never realized how much history was attached to that structure. And I would never have known that it was once the tallest structure in America.

    I was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield for part of my time in Savannah and fell in love with the city after realizing how beautiful it is. I plan to go back for a visit some time in 2015, and, of course, one of my favorite spots is Tybee. So, naturally, I will pay more attention to that little lighthouse as I pass by it. And, who knows, I may just stop by and snap a few photos of it, too.

  • https://www.google.com/ gwen

    thanks