West Ship Island, Gulf Islands

#10 of 37 in Nature in Mississippi
Ship Island Light was a lighthouse in Mississippi near Gulfport.
The first tower at this site was constructed in 1853; though appropriations were made starting in 1848; disputes over land ownership delayed acquisition of the land. This tower was built of brick and was initially equipped with a multiple lamp and reflector system; three years later, it was upgraded to a fourth-order Fresnel lens.
In January 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War confederate forces seized the island, including the incomplete fortifications and the lighthouse. When they abandoned the fort in September, they removed the lighthouse lens and set the interior on fire. Union forces occupied the island shortly thereafter and restored it to operation in November 1862, using a captured lens and lantern. The light was blacked out to the north to prevent its use by blockade runners approaching from the mainland.
By this time the tower had begun to lean conspicuously, and in 1886 it was condemned as unsafe, and a new tower was erected about away. This tower was constructed entirely of wood and was originally an open framework, though it was soon sheathed in siding. Wood frame keeper's houses were constructed to either side of it. The characteristic of the light had been changed from fixed white to fixed red in 1880. During this era the light was tended by one Dan McColl, who had lost a leg in a railroad accident. The old tower collapsed in 1901. Three years previous, a set of range lights had been erected to mark one section of the channel out of Gulfport, Mississippi; it was considered that the labor of climbing three towers was too much too expect of McColl, and he was transferred to Cat Island Light, a nearby screw-pile lighthouse, where he served until he died in 1904. The rear light of the range stood on a short open wood tower, a short distance from the main tower.
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West Ship Island Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
40 reviews
  • We were staying in New Orleans, but we arose early and were at the ferry slip in Gulfport, MS at 8:30 am to catch the 9 am ferry to Ship Island, which lies 11 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. Ferry...  more »
  • We had a great time at Ship Island. The ferry ride over was pleasant and we managed to see a few dolphins. Once we got to the island, we saw quite a few sting rays close to the boardwalk. It started.....  more »
  • This has become our beach vacation location. It’s very laid back and relaxing. We always ride the ferry out of Gulfport MS and do the 1/2 day excursion. Buy your tickets online, just search for Ship Island Excursions. Once you are there, be prepared for a LONG walk from the dock all the way across the island to the beach. Pack accordingly. Rolling coolers or really portable models are a must. There’s only one little snack bar there that sells food, drinks, floats, shaded, and beers. Prices aren’t bad and the food is good. Burgers, dogs, and such. Try the chicken wrap with ranch! If you want adrenaline and excitement go somewhere else. If you want to enjoy time at the beach relaxing, it might be your new favorite spot.
  • I loved the island. The beaches were beautiful. My only complaint is that the rangers have a cart that they ride around on that takes up most of the board walk leaving just enough room on the island boardwalk to walk by in a single file line. This isn't safe when it is driving by a group of pedestrians. The cart was driven past us all three times we walked across the island on the boardwalk. I'm not knocking the rangers. They were going slow and being safe. The size of their vehicle the subject of my gripe. We still had an awesome time on the island. 5 stars!

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