Replace Cockspur Lighthouse Revetment

Fort Pulaski National Monument » Replace Cockspur Lighthouse Revetment » Document List

The Cockspur Island Lighthouse is one of five historic lighthouses remaining in Georgia. The lighthouse is situated on an islet off the southeastern tip of Cockspur Island between the north and south channels of the Savannah River. The lighthouse was constructed in 1849 to guide vessels to the port of Savannah. In 1854 the tower was destroyed by a hurricane; however it was rebuilt and enlarged on the same foundation shortly after the tragedy. At the start of the American Civil War, the lighthouse was extinguished. During the Battle of Fort Pulaski on April 10-11, 1862, the Lighthouse was located directly in the line of fire of Union forces on Tybee Island and Confederate forces inside Fort Pulaski. During that 30-hour battle more 5,000 rounds passed over the Lighthouse. Remarkably, the Lighthouse emerged unscathed. At the end of the war the lighthouse was re-lit. On June 1, 1909, the lighthouse was officially extinguished due to natural changes in the Savannah River. On August 14, 1958, the lighthouse was obtained by the National Park Service and became part of the Fort Pulaski National Monument.

Today, the Cockspur Island Lighthouse remains open to the public, though it is accessible only by water and landings can only occur at low tide. An overlook trail located within Fort Pulaski offers visitors a chance to get a closer look at the lighthouse without having use a boat, canoe or kayak. The islet is comprised of oyster shells and small patches of marsh grass. The substrate is very sharp and becomes extremely slippery when wet, creating a treacherous walking surface for visitors.

The life of the lighthouse is currently being threatened due to island erosion and marine borer infestation. During high tide, the island is completely submerged. Natural processes, including winds and tides, as well as waves caused by passing ships have eroded the island away, so now it only consists of a narrow strip of land visible during high tide. Portions of the lighthouse's wooden foundation are now exposed and have visible shipworm damage. The shipworm infestation can compromise and eventually destroy the wooden foundation, ultimately losing the historic lighthouse.

The National Park Service has proposed to stabilize the banks of the island by placing riprap along the shoreline. The area from the riprap to the interior of the island surrounding the lighthouse would be filled with material, which would resemble the 1860s viewshed. The secondary benefit of the bank stabilization would be lighthouse protection. Additionally, by placing fill material the lighthouse would be accessible to guests for longer periods throughout the day and it would provide a safer substrate.

The National Park Service must follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 to assure consideration of important environmental issues. An Environmental Assessment will consider the environmental impacts to topics such as wildlife habitat, wetlands, floodplains, vegetation, and park visitor use and experience. The document will analyze both short-term, long-term, and cumulative effects of the proposed action and the "no action alternative". The environmental assessment will assist stakeholders in the decision-making process.

Contact Information

Mike Hosti
Project Leader
National Park Service
Fort Pulaski National Monument
P.O. Box 30757
Savannah, GA 31410