Round Island Lighthouse
Built in 1849 to replace an earlier lighthouse, the Round Island Lighthouse off the Pascagoula coast remained in operation until 1944. During the late 19th century, it served as a quarantine station for yellow fever epidemics. Curiously, the U.S. Navy briefly blockaded Round Island when it was used as an encampment by a private army that had decided to invade Cuba for fun and profit. This little known army was shown the error of its ways by the Federal gunboats, thus the real invasion of Cuba would have to wait a few years. The Round Island Lighthouse was severely damaged by Hurricane George in 1998. During the storm, the structure toppled from the undercutting flow of waves. Although the city obtained federal emergency funds to stabilize the foundation and prevent further wave incursions, the structure remained in a perilous condition.
2015 Update – In Progress
Before Hurricane Katrina, the City of Pascagoula rebuilt the 11-acre beach around the lighthouse and secured it with a concrete breakwater. The City received a CIAP grant and planted native vegetation on the new beach to minimize erosion. They applied for funding from a TEA-21 grant for restoration and received $250,000 from the Community Heritage Grant Program administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the battered lighthouse was still there; however, erosion and damage caused by the hurricane had taken its toll. Plans were made to barge the lighthouse safely ashore about three miles inland near the Highway 90 bridge.
The restoration of the Round Island Lighthouse in its new location is now underway and continues at a steady pace. The lantern gallery was completed in 2012, the exterior in 2014, and the interior in July 2015. The Grand Opening took place in the fall of 2015. Please visit www.roundislandlighthouse.org to learn more about the restoration and make a donation to this worthwhile project.