Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Review--The Beacon of Mosquito Inlet: A History of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse

Taylor, Thomas W. The Beacon of Mosquito Inlet: A History of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse. Allandale: Self Published, 1993. Bibliography, b/w photos. 53 pages. ISBN 9781885853004.

   Lighthouses have continued to hold the interest of a large number of Americans. Just look at the number of items available for sale with lighthouse images on them. The image doesn't even have to be a real lighthouse to make it sell.

In The Beacon of Mosquito Inlet, author Thomas W. Taylor gives a very brief introductory history to the tallest lighthouse in the state of Florida. Brevity is both a blessing and a curse.

The brevity of the book is a blessing in that it can be easily read in one sitting. For those looking for just a brief primer on the lighthouse this is perfect. There is not a large amount of detail to bog a reader down. There are some photos included with quality varying probably due to the original. I think this brevity is the goal of the book and if so it succeeds.

For those looking for more in-depth information however this is not going to satisfy. While the "killer inlet" legend is discussed there is more to be told and the stories included could have been told in more depth. The first lighthouse from the 1830s receives a brief discussion. The building of the current tower is covered but again there could have been more. I would have liked to know more about the keepers. There is a nice listing of keepers and assistant keepers that I found to be valuable but more information on these men would have been appreciated. The daily life and chores of keepers receive brief mention but a discussion of these chores and the isolated life that the keepers led early in the lighthouse's history should have been included. The lives of children receive mention but again the history of these youngsters would have put a lot of insight into what it was like to live the life of a keeper and family. A more technical covering of the types of lights should have been included. The electrification of the tower and the effects of it are only glanced at as is the importance of the tower during World War II. The story of the tower being reactivated seems to have needed a more in depth discussion.

For what it is this booklet covers the basics. I doubt many readers, including many who say they are interested in lighthouses, would be looking for too much more. There is however a segment of the market that would appreciate an updated and more in depth treatment of this Volusia County landmark. From what I have found this may be the only work on the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse around. As for availability it is a bit tough to find and does not appear on the website for the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. If you live in Volusia County check your local library or request it through inter-library loan.

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