There was a brick daymark (daytime navigational aid without a light) on Cockspur Island by 1839. Its location at the busy entrance to the South Channel of the Savannah River just west of Tybee Island dictated its importance and by 1848, the prominent New York architect John Norris was contracted to design an illuminated tower. Norris was best known for designing the United States Customs House in Savannah, as well as the Mercer-Wilder House and the Green-Meldrim House, where General Sherman was headquartered while in Savannah. An 1854 hurricane destroyed this structure and it was rebuilt the next year. George Washington Martus served as one of the lighthouse keepers in the early 1880s but was transferred to the nearby Elba Island lighthouse in 1884. His sister Florence lived there with him and for over forty years was known for greeting all the ships entering and leaving Savannah with the wave of a handkerchief or lantern. She became a local legend and was known as “The Waving Girl”. A statue of Florence Martus is now a popular landmark on River Street. The Cockspur Island lighthouse was discontinued in 1909. Stabilized between 1995-2000 and relit with a solar beacon in 2007, it remains in critical condition.
A nice 3/4 mile trail leads to the best viewing area for the lighthouse, but it’s a fairly strenuous walk over uneven terrain.
The lighthouse is open to the public but can only be accessed by boat at low tide.
National Register of Historic Places