Historic Fla. Lighthouse Collapses

A historic lighthouse has collapsed, a decade after a hurricane left it leaning at about a 10-degree angle.

The 153-year-old Cape St. George Lighthouse (search) was found toppled on Friday, said officials of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

"The lighthouse unexpectedly succumbed to the forces of nature and fell to the beach and Gulf of Mexico," DEP officials said.

In 1995, Hurricane Opal (search) caused the 74-foot-tall brick lighthouse to tilt, but the Cape St. George Lighthouse Society raised $50,000 from local residents and $160,000 in state grants and fixed the tilt of the lighthouse in 2002.

However, erosion removed sand from around the base of the lighthouse and left it standing 20 feet from shore, according to the St. George Lighthouse Association (search). DEP officials said they had been seeking a $350,000 grant that would have been used to restore and relocate the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was used until 1994, when it was taken out of service by the Coast Guard.