Mobile Middle Bay Lighthouse is one of Alabama's most interesting lighthouses. There are just a couple of screw-pile light-houses left at sea in the United States that still stand on piles screwed into a sandy, muddy bottom of the sea. The others have been moved ashore to protect them from the ravages of the sea. The 1½ hexagonal light is unusual in that it was constructed as a replica of the Hooper Straight Light off the Maryland Coast. MBL is thought to be one of the only few remaining lights on the water.
On March 3, 1883, an Act was approved appropriating $19,000 to mark the recently completed Mobile Ship Channel. Under this appropriation, the MBL Station was established in December of 1885. At that time, the light exhibited a fixed white light varied by a red flash every 30 seconds.
In 1905, the light was rebuilt and it is believed that it is a duplicate of the original light. The 1½ story cottage was home to a series of lightkeepers--and one cow. The cow, according to "Mobile Renaissance," was brought in for a baby that would not nurse. Both baby and cow were evacuated as a hurricane approached in 1916.
In 1935, the light was automated and the lighthouse has been vacant since that date. Middle Bay was deactivated in 1967. The US Coast Guard proposed demolition in 1971 and it was saved by concerned citizens. The light was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and in 1977; the GSA and NPS approved the transfer of ownership to the Alabama Historical Commission.
The light was stabilized and painted in 1985 for its 100th anniversary by the Mobile Centennial Commission and volunteers. When the Alabama Lighthouse Association was formed, they continued caring for the light until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina came ashore. After that, it became too dangerous for private citizens to work on. All work now goes through the AHC.
In 2007, the ALA proposed to the AHC to move the light to shore. This was denied. In 2009, a project to refurbish the light in 2011 was begun by the AHC at a cost of over $270,000. In 2012, a storm damaged the roof costing $5,000. The light was damaged again in 2013 by a shrimp boat costing the AHC $70,000 to repair. The authorities tell us that the boat was out-of-state, with no insurance coverage, and damage to the vessel was repaired, thus making an arrest hard to make.
If you want to visit Middle Bay by boat, there are also several tour boats, such as the Joshua (out of Fairhope, Alabama) and Five Rivers Delta (located on the Causeway) that can take spectators out to the light.
If you are visiting the lighthouse via boat, please feel free to take as many pictures as you wish. On a clear day, you might see the lighthouse from shore from Point Clear, Alabama. Please do not climb on the lighthouse. The railings that surround the walkway are deteriorating and have not been replaced as of April 2014.