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The Bright, Silent Sentinel

Updated on September 3, 2016
Big Diamond
Big Diamond | Source

The Bright, but Silent Sentinel

For 109 years this bright, silent sentinel has been in the same place, doing the same job. There were a few times when it needed a meniscus or an apparatus was not working correctly. There were the years between 1939 and 1945 (WWII) when its original use was suspended and it was used as a detection point. The time came when it was no longer needed because of new technology. Then it was reinstated in 2000 as an historical figure.

Sentinel Needed

The need for a chain to be completed became clear in 1885. In 1906 the position was set to be filled and on March 7, 1907 it was filled by this stately sentinel. The sentinel hailed from Detroit, Michigan. It took its position on an inlet that cost $300.00. Throughout their tenure this sentinel weathered a hurricane in 1926, a major take over in 1939, complete new dressing in 1995 and 2012, a dredging and the rebuilding of a barrier.

Barefoot Postman

The location of this silent sentinel is in a spot where one of the barefoot mailmen died. It is presumed that the mailman was killed by an alligator. The time of the barefoot mailman was prior to the time of this sentinel. From the year of 1885 to the year of 1892 the barefoot mailmen roamed this 40 miles of sandy beach between Miami and Palm Beach delivering the mail each week.

Hillsboro Inlet - Big Diamond Lighthouse
Hillsboro Inlet - Big Diamond Lighthouse | Source

Sentinel position

This sentinel was one of thirty which guarded the beaches along this coast. The location of this sentinel is now known as one of the oldest structures in Broward County and is one the most powerful remaining in the World. The name of this powerful sentinel is the “Big Diamond.”

The Big Diamond

The Big Diamond got its name because of the shape of the glass on the outside of the lantern room. It has a 147’ foot skeleton. It has a heavy stone breakwater base. This silent sentinel is the Hillsboro Lighthouse on Hillsboro Inlet located at Lighthouse Point, Florida.

Powerful lighting

Big Diamond began its position as the silent sentinel with lighting from an incandescent oil vapor lamp. Graduated to three 250 watt bulbs, that was eventually replaced with one-1,000 watt bulb, it was completely rewired in 1993 and currently holds the record as the World’s most powerful lighthouse.

Club Unique

During the prohibition years a restaurant was built on the Hillsboro inlet, this restaurant called the “Club Unique.” Rum running boats entered the inlet and illegal rum was served at this restaurant. During WWII this club was a secret meeting place for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister Anthony Eden and others. These leaders would often spend time around the lighthouse. To this day the Coast Guard still utilizes the keeper’s cottages for retired and active military.

During WWII there were skirmishes fought in the shadow of Big Diamond. German submarines patrolled the water offshore.

41 cent stamp of Hillsboro Inlet-Big Diamond Lighthouse, Lighthouse Point, Florida
41 cent stamp of Hillsboro Inlet-Big Diamond Lighthouse, Lighthouse Point, Florida | Source

Postal Honor

In the Fall of 1997 the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society, Inc. was established and chartered as a non-profit corporation. Big Diamond was honored by the United States Postal Service in a 2003 as the featured lighthouse on the .41 cent postal stamp.

Information on Hillsboro Lighthouse, Big Diamond

There are walking tours of the Lighthouse Station and the opportunity to climb the 175 steps several times a year. Although you cannot walk to the lighthouse. Information can be obtained from the website; www.hillsborolighthouse.org for dates and locations of transportation. A 48 passenger charter boat is available to ferry visitors to the lighthouse. Their phone number is; 1-954-942-2102. In 2016 the cost is $25.00 a year, per person to visit the lighthouse and ride the ferry. This provides for 15 trips per year. E-mail; info@hillsborolighthouse.org or their address is; Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society, Inc., P. O. Box 610326, Pompano Beach, FL 33061-0326.

Hillsboro Inlet, Lighthouse Point, Florida

This bright, silent sentinel and a statue of the barefoot mailman are waiting to greet you on the shores the Hillsboro Inlet of eastern Florida. Be sure and visit this historic lighthouse next time you visit this area.

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