In 1822, French Physicist, Augustin Fresnel invented a lens that was able to capture 83% of the light sent to the lens while flames on reflectors, which were standard at the time, lost 83% of their light. Dr. Fresnel revolutionized lighthouse optics and made the water safer for mariners. He became a well-known name amongst European and American lighthouses.
The original lens at Gasparilla Island Lighthouse is thought to be a 4th Order Fresnel lens. A replica of the lens stands in the lighthouse today (photo left).
The original lens in Port Boca Grande light was a 3/12 order bi-valve, clamshell Fresnel lens. According to Dian McKeithan-Miller, daughter of the last light keeper, Cody McKeithan, “I remember the lens was so beautiful. It was shaped like a clam shell and as it spun around it was breathtaking.”
Sadly, in 1966 when the lighthouse was decommissioned, the lens was removed as was standard operating procedure. BIPS needs your help to locate it! The identification number is LHS410. If you come across the lens, please call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if we cannot return it to our lighthouse, we would still love to know where it is.
Thanks for your help!