Biloxi lighthouse reopening to public tours - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi lighthouse reopening to public tours

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The City of Biloxi announced Thursday that its historic lighthouse will be open for public tours next week. Three morning tours will be offered six days a week.

Biloxi's signature landmark -- which has undergone a 14-month $400,000 restoration -- saw nearly a thousand people ascend its spiral staircase on Feb. 21, a day after it was re-dedicated and re-lit by the city, and tours of the historic 65-foot tall structure were popular before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

The tours, in which visitors can see waterlines from hurricanes dating back more than a hundred years, will follow the pre-Katrina schedule, at 9, 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, weather permitting. Admission is $5 for adults, or $2 for children 6 to 12. Tickets are available at the Lighthouse at the time of the tour.

Biloxi Historical Administrator Bill Raymond said tours for groups can be reserved at other times, with group discounts available. To make reservations, e-mail braymond@biloxi.ms.us.

"For those who wonder why only three tours are scheduled and so early in the day, it's because you have to remember that this is a cast-iron structure in the middle of a heavily traveled highway," Raymond said. "The heat in the lighthouse can quickly climb to well over 100 degrees during the day. That's why we do it first thing in the morning."

And, Raymond said, the tours are not for the faint of heart. The tour involves climbing 57 steps of a spiral staircase inside the lighthouse, and climbing an eight-rung ladder topped by a 19-by-23-inch trap door into the light room. Those making the climb should be at least 42 inches tall.

"The climb is strenuous and should not be attempted if you have difficulty climbing or descending stairs unassisted," Raymond said.

The Biloxi Lighthouse, believed to be the most-photographed landmark in the city, was one of the first cast-iron structures to be erected in the South. It was constructed in 1848, and is believed to be the only lighthouse situated in the middle of a major highway.

The structure stands 65-feet tall, from its base to the tip of the weather vane atop the lighthouse, and it is 14 feet, 10 inches wide at its base.

To print a detailed background of the Biloxi Lighthouse, courtesy of a pre-Katrina city brochure, click here.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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