Boca Grande Entrance Rear Range Light worked in conjunction with a flashing light atop a twenty-foot-tall steel structure located offshore. When a captain positioned his vessel so that the light from the rear range was positioned directly above the flashing light of the front range, he knew he was in the middle of the shipping channel. The captain would continue north in the channel, until he reached a series of towers that marked the channel leading east to the safe anchorage at Port Boca Grande.
The Boca Grande tower isn’t the only example of a tower being relocated to a different section of the country to continue its service. Just a few years after the tower was moved to Florida, a skeletal tower was transferred from the Delaware River in Pennsylvania to Michigan Island, one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. Likewise, a tower used on Sapelo Island in Georgia until 1933 was dismantled and shipped to Fox Island in Lake Michigan.
The front range light of the Boca Grande Entrance Range was discontinued in 2003, and the rear light was renamed Gasparilla Island Light, the name the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse had before being deactivated in 1966. Plans to discontinue the light in 2004 were scrapped following public appeals, and the lighthouse remains in operation to this day, guiding vessels safely through Boca Grande Channel into the safe confines of Charlotte Harbor. The tower’s white light, which is alternately on for three seconds and off for three seconds, is displayed at a focal plane of 105 feet, with a red sector marking a dangerous approach.
Starting in 2017, the tower opened for climbing roughly one day per month.