Bowlers Rock Station


Photo is of LV28 in 1895 when on station in Galveston

Bowlers Rock Station, 1835 – 1868

A total of two lightships were assigned to the Bowlers Rock station in the upper Rappahannock River approximately 34 miles above its entrance into the Chesapeake Bay and approximately 8-1/2 miles downriver from the town of Tappahannock to mark a large rock on the east side of the channel, called Bowlers Rock.  This rock was very near the Bowlers Wharf landing and was a major hazard to navigation in that area.

From 1835-1861, LV” O” served the station.  This was a small 54-ton, wood-framed ship with two lanterns with one light placed between two square posts.  There was also a hand-operated fog bell.  In 1861 the ship was destroyed by Confederate forces.  The ship and its crew’s fate remain unknown.

From 1861 through 1863 the station was vacant.

After the war, LV-28 was stationed from 1864 until 1868 when the new screwpile lighthouse was commissioned.  The ship was an 82-foot long, 83-ton wood-framed schooner that was built in 1864 at Norfolk, Virginia at a price of $16,000.  It carried a single lantern with eight oil lamps a hand-operated fog bell.  There was an iron hoop day marker on the mast.

LV-28 remained at Bowlers Rock for four years and was discontinued when Bowlers Rock Lighthouse went into service on June 10, 1868, about one mile upriver from the lightship station.

After its service at Bowlers Rock, LV-28 served as the Relief light vessel for the fifth district. It was then assigned to the Galveston Light station in Texas until it was placed out of service in 1906.

No photos are known to exist of either light vessel marked as Bowlers Rock.   If one is located, please email:

Crew Members: A.G. McCarty (1853), James Mothershead (1853-1867), George W. Hadden (1867)


1. Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board, various years.

2. Lightships-Floating Lighthouses of the Mid-Atlantic, Wayne Kirklin, 2007.

3. Bowlers Rock Lightship Station History. (n.d.). Retrieved September 6, 2018, from





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