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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
“So…why build a lighthouse where nobody lived?” That was the general assumption in the mid-1800s about the geographic location of Jupiter Inlet in southeast Florida. Once a major trading hub for Native Americans and now home to over 8 million people, Jupiter Inlet seemed an unlikely location for a lighthouse. Yet its beacon of light was much needed. After building the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in 1860, the area became a hive of activity with builders, traders, farmers, Civil War blockade runners, paddlewheel steamships and so much more. As related by James D. Snyder in A Light in the Wilderness: The Story of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and the southeast Florida Frontier, this lighthouse has a vibrant story to tell, one that parallels the history of southeast Florida.
James D. Snyder’s book, A Light in the Wilderness, is a fascinating look at local history and how it evolved around one beacon of hope. Full of historic photographs, letters and documents, journal entries, and other interesting tidbits of history and folklore, the author has woven an engaging and informative look at the geographic area that developed around Jupiter Inlet and its lighthouse. Beginning with what the author defines as the “lonely coastline in the mid-nineteenth century,” the account progresses through to the present day. The stories are told with accuracy and precision, with the author’s attention to historic detail backed by his considerable research. Appendices include multiple references and resources so the reader can look deeper into the area and its history. I found this book to be a fascinating read.