The original Cape Henry Light was completed in 1792. By 1872 the old tower had developed cracks in the walls and it was decided to rebuild. It was not until 1875 that Congress appropriated $75,000 “for rebuilding and remodeling the lighthouse at Cape Henry.” The new cast iron 170 foot tower was completed in 1881. The light is 164 feet above water and is visible offshore for 19 miles.
The lantern was equipped with a first-order lens. A steam siren fog signal was also established. The candlepower has now been increased to 80,000 for the white light, with 16,000-candlepower red sector covering the shoals outside the cape and the middle ground inside the bay. The station is also equipped with a diaphone fog signal and a radio beacon. The light was fully automated in 1984.
The old tower is open for climbing. The new tower is not.
Drive time is 16 minutes and 7.4 miles from the intersection of US Route 13 and 60. From the Intersection of US Route 13 and US Route 60, (East of Norfolk, West of Virginia Beach and just South of the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel) Go east on US Route 60 (Shore Drive) for about 5 miles until you see the sign for Fort Story. This will be Atlantic Avenue, turn left on to Atlantic Ave. into the entrance to Fort Story. At the guard house, the guard may ask for ID. Go 2.4 miles to the parking area on the right.
The old tower is on the right and the new tower is directly across the street on the left.
GPS: 36.927390, -76.007452