History - Timeline

  • 1837 - First ascent of the Sabine River by the SS Velocipede.
  • 1838 - President Martin Van Buren established the Port Sabine Military Reservation of 20,575 which contains the 45 acres the Lighthouse currently resides on.
  • 1848 - Resolution made by Louisiana Legislature calling for Congressional appropriation for a lighthouse at the Sabine River.
  • 1849 - Congress passed an appropriation for the lighthouse, allocating $7,500.
    - Navy Commander Harry A. Adams was tasked to survey for a lighthouse location on the Sabine River. His report, relying on a report from Stephen Pleasonton whom he had assigned the duty, stated: "... the coast is so free from danger in that vicinity, the place itself is so easy of access, and the business done there is so inconsiderable, that, in my opinion, a lighthouse is not necessary there at this time."
  • 1852 - Lt. Jno. Wilkinson, USN, survey and recommended that a lighthouse be built on the Sabine in a report dated July 12, 1852.
    - Lighthouse board obviously agrees and request $30,000 for a first class lighthouse at the mouth of the river. Authorized on March 3, 1953.
    - Lt. J. Wilkinson, reported in survey that, "...No spot can be found on either side of the pass nearer to the coast, suitable for construction of a lighthouse." A site in Texas near the town of Sabine, 2.5 miles from the coast, was selected for the site.
    - Lt. Montgomery Hunt, Lighthouse Inspector of Galveston argued in a report that, "Money should not be thrown away upon such an unimportant place. Five thousand dollars would build as good a light as is required there for the next twenty years; indeed, it would be an absolute waste of money to expend over eight thousand dollars for that purpose."
  • 1853 - Negotiations for land in Texas became difficult and finally ended without resolution.
  • 1854 - Galveston inspector, Lt. Walter H. Stevens was dispatched to designate a site. He obtained rights to property at the currently location of Brant Point in Louisiana.
    - Third order FVF lens and lantern purchased and ready for shipment from Philadelphia. LH board's letter to 9th District Inspector request plans for a lighthouse that can be built with the remaining budget of $22,258.13. Stevens recommends a cast iron tower (like the one built at Bolivar and Matagorda). Board declines this recommendation and instead designates one of Brick to be built.
    - Construction to begin. However, a failure to execute the contract for building was brought about (presumably) due to the delivery of inferior brick.
  • 1856 - Construct began and on August 26th the 3rd order lantern and clock works left Philadelphia, via New York, on the bark Robt Mills.
  • 1857 - Lighthouse lit by first keeper Mr. Benjamin F. Granger. Original light was fueled with Whale oil.
  • 1859 - LH board accounting reflects payments for one keeper for $600 and one assistant keeper at $300.
  • 1861 - Light extinguished by Confederate Lighthouse board on the morning of August 17th and current keeper G.W. Plummer paid thru August 16th.
  • 1862 - Lantern and clock works dismantled by Benjamin Granger in effort to thwart use by the union navy.
  • 1863 - Battle of Sabine Pass when 2 Union ships were lost and 350 soldiers were captured by Dick Dowling and his band of 43 dock hands turned soldiers. During this time there were several skirmishes between Union and Confederate soldiers over the use of the Lighthouse as an observation tower.
  • 1865 - Attempts by the LH Board to locate the lantern and clock works produced only portions of the lens (missing the brass frames) and pedestal. Final repairs completed and lamp re-exhibited on December 23, 1865.
  • 1871 - Pay increase for Keeper and Assistant to $700 and $400, respectively.
  • 1881 - On the morning of April 17, the lighthouse tender Geranium arrived and found the lighthouse extinguished. When questioned later in the morning, keeper Charles Crossman claimed that the pump on the lamp was out of order and then claimed the clockwork weight had fallen, forcing him to turn the lens by hand all night. LH engineer William H. Heuer investigated finding nothing wrong with the pump and finding a spare weight on hand. He observed that Crossman had a black eye and appeared to be suffering from a night on the town.
  • 1882 - Newer Mineral Oil type lantern installed.
  • 1886 - A hurricane storm surge which killed 150 residents of Sabine Pass blew away everything except the Lighthouse. Tide surge measured at some 8 feet above the ordinary tide. Ground on which the tower is built is a mere 3 feet above high tide.
  • 1886 - An elevated keepers home was built to replace the one lost in the storm the previous year. Also a 12,150 gallon Cypress cistern was built to retain fresh water. The home was a 40 by 48 feet and housed both Keeper and Assistant and their families.
  • 1898 - New wharf built to reach Sabine river, built of cypress and 3inch galvanized iron gas pipe it extended a total of 1,350 feet.
  • 1901 - Discovery of oil at Spindletop caused a metric rise in vessel traffic. Corps of Engineers dredged and completed jetties and by 1910 they extended almost 5 miles to sea.
  • 1913 - Lantern changed from wick type to IOV.
  • 1915 - Hurricane on August 16 and 17, swept away all outbuildings, wharf and walkways, leaving only the tower and the two keepers up top turning the lamp by hand as the vibrations put the clockwork out of order.
  • 1929 - Station electrified with the addition of a radio beacon and electric lamp.
  • 1932 - Black bands added to heretofore all white tower to increase visibility at the recommendations of a Texas shipping company.
  • 1952 - On the morning of May 21, keeper Steve Purgley turned off the light for the last time.
  • 1954 - Ownership of Lighthouse, support buildings and acreage transferred to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. Ownership reverted back to the US Government when state funds were unavailable to keep up the structures.
  • 1971 - Ownership of Lighthouse, support buildings and acreage transferred to Lamar University but reverted back to the Federal Government because the University failed to utilize the property. Funding was again the root of the problems.
  • 1976 - Marsh fire destroyed all buildings and walkways with the exception of the brick generator building and tower.
  • 1982 - Entered into the National Register of Historic Places on December 17 (Reference #81000290).
  • 1986 - General Service Administration sold the station at auction for $55,000 to P.G. Grenader and W.C. Pielop Jr. Their plans were to restore the lighthouse and build a restaurant and Yacht Club.
  • 2001 - Ownership transferred to the Cameron Preservation Alliance.