Iconic lighthouse to welcome drivers into Pascagoula

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - For years it stood on Round Island, beckoning sailors to safety.  Hurricane Georges, in 1998, toppled it into the water. Then Hurricane Katrina reduced its remnants to ruins. In 2009, the structure's 150th anniversary, all that's left of the Round Island Lighthouse is a base, resting askew inside a frame.

Citizens have pushed hard to restore the Round Island Lighthouse, especially the group called the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society. Now, the city of Pascagoula is stepping in to make it a landmark for the city once again.

"We actually have several pieces of lighthouse left from when Georges hurt the lighthouse, and we've been storing them," City Program Director Jaci Turner said.  "We'd like to put as many pieces together as we can and restore it."

Turner is in charge of the project for the city.  City funds and grant money will pay to move what's left of the lighthouse to the south east side of the Pascagoula River bridge, where it will be rebuilt.

"What we're going to be able to do is bring it off the island on a barge up to the base of the river, then offload it, and move it inland," explained Turner.  "[Then] set it up to the base of the high rise [Pascagoula River Bridge] as a welcome and entry into our city."

The lighthouse will also serve as an attraction in the future Historic Walkways Project.  A proposed walkway will connect the lighthouse all the way down to the river, where there will be a boat launch.  The boat launch area will also be connected to downtown Pascagoula by another pathway.  The idea is to make historic Pascagoula more accessible to the public.

"Bringing it on land and restoring it is going to enable everybody an opportunity to really see it up close, and see the structure of the time," Turner said about the lighthouse.  "It was made with saltwater mortar things like that that you can't see on land, and this will provide some access to our people."

Turner said she looks forward to moving the lighthouse to a new location where it can be a symbol for Pascagoula for years to come.

The Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society helped recover pieces of the lighthouse after Hurricane Georges.  The group said they haven't been as active since Hurricane Katrina, but Secretary Liz Ford told WLOX, "We support the city's efforts, and we're delighted that the lighthouse will be restored, and we appreciate the cooperation of everyone involved.  It's very appropriate that it will have a new beginning in its 150th year."

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