Category: Heritage-Virginia

Dutch Gap Canal

Dutch Gap Canal Lights were constructed at either end of the canal in 1875 near Hopewell, Virginia on the upper James River. The lights were two 27-foot post lights. The lights were originally to be a sixth-order, but it was decided to use small lanterns, burning mineral oil. The canal was constructed by Union troops …

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Timeline: Chesapeake Light Tower

Chesapeake Light Tower

(Located 13 miles east of Virginia Beach, 14.5 miles ESE of Cape Henry, VA) (Revised – 03/26/2013) 1888-1965 Five Light vessels and LV-116/WAL-538 Chesapeake (1933 to 1965) mark the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. 1965 Chesapeake decommissioned. New, ultra modern lighthouse, an adaptation of an offshore oil drilling platform first used off Texas coast, is …

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Timeline: Cape Charles

(Located on the west side of the south part of Smith Island, seacoast of Virginia, 12 miles NNE of Cape Henry, Manager -VA Nature Conservancy (VA Coast Reserve) – tallest skeletal tower in US) (Revised 03/26/2013) 1828 First lighthouse, 51 foot masonry tower constructed. 1860 Construction of a second lighthouse begun. 1862 Confederate guerillas raid …

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Deep Water Shoal

The first Deep Water Shoal Lighthouse was built in 1855 on the James River northeast of Fort Eustis on the shoal on the right side of the channel, above Mulberry Island Point and below Lyon’s Creek. The light was first exhibited on February 6, 1855. It was a small, twenty-foot square, four-room white dwelling with …

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Craney Island

Photo courtesy U.S Coast Guard (1884 lighthouse). The first permanent lightship station in the United States was anchored in 1820 in the lower Chesapeake Bay on the west side of the channel near the mouth of the Elizabeth River to guide vessels approaching Norfolk & Portsmouth harbors. This lightship was originally stationed at Willoughby Spit, …

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Cherrystone Bar

Photo taken at Choptank River location. The original request to build a small, screwpile lighthouse to mark the entrance to Cherrystone Harbor was in 1853.  Congress later appropriated $10,000 on August 3, 1854. Cherrystone Bar Lighthouse was completed and first lighted on January 1, 1858. It was a white, hexagonal screwpile lighthouse built just south …

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Bowlers Rock Lighthouse

Bowlers Rock Lighthouse was built in 1868 on the Rappahannock River 30 miles upriver from the Chesapeake Bay between Bowlers Landing and Suggetts Point in Virginia.  It was the only lighthouse built in or on the Rappahannock River. Prior to the lighthouse, two lightships were stationed in the upper part of the river approximately 8-1/2 miles …

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Bells Rock Lighthouse

In the 1800s, the dock at West Point was a major terminal for the Richmond & York River Railroad, which resulted in an increase of traffic on the York River.  This led to the appropriation of $35,000 to build a lighthouse to aid in guiding the ships to the railroad dock.  The lighthouse was built …

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Back River

Back River Lighthouse was built in 1829 by Winslow Lewis of Boston at a cost $3,500 plus an additional $750 for his own lamps. It was constructed on four acres of land six miles north of Old Point Comfort between the Back-River entrance and the Grandview area of the City of Hampton, Virginia. It was …

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Wolf Trap

The Wolf Trap light is located in 16 feet of water on the eastern end of the Wolf Trap Spit south of where the Rappahannock River enters the Chesapeake Bay. It is a caisson tower with its light 52 feet above mean high water. Congress first appropriated funds for a light at Windmill Point or …

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Thimble Shoal

The first Thimble Shoal Lighthouse was a six-sided screwpile light erected in 1872. This light was first lit on October 15, 1872. This light replaced the last lightship in the bay. The light was listed as 3 ½ miles east of Old Point Comfort at Willoughby’s Spit and The Thimble entrance to Hampton Roads. On …

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Smith Point

Smith Point is located on the Southern side where the Potomac River enters the Bay. The first light at this point was erected in 1802. Erosion of the shoreline caused the light to be moved in 1807. In 1821 a lightship was stationed off the point. In 1828 erosion again forced the Light-House Board to …

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Old Point Comfort

This light is the second oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. It was first lit in 1802 on the grounds of Fort George, the fort that was there prior to the current Fort Monroe. The 54 foot tall light was built by Elzy Burroughs who also built the New Point Comfort light located up the …

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New Point Comfort

The New Point Comfort light, the third oldest light on the Bay, was built in 1804. It is located at the entrance to Mobjack Bay and the mouth of the York River in Mathews County, Virginia. In 1865 the 63-foot tower was fitted with a new fourth-order Fresnel lens that allowed the light to be …

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Newport News Middle Ground

In 1871, the United States government established a light station to mark the underwater L-shaped shoal in the middle of the Hampton Roads shipping lanes. This caisson lighthouse was completed and first lighted in 1891 at a cost of $50,000. The lighthouse was fitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens. The overall structure is 56 feet …

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Jones Point

In 1852 Congress approved $5,000 to acquire land and build a small lighthouse at Jones Point on the Potomac River just south of the city of Alexandra, Virginia. The land was purchased from the Manassas Gap Rail Road in 1855. The light was first lit on May 3, 1856. The builder of the light was …

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Chesapeake Light Tower

The Chesapeake Light Tower stands 13 miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean off Virginia Beach. This steel, “Texas style” tower was built in 1965 and is 120 feet tall. The tower is supported by four 33 inch concrete filled steel pilings driven 180 feet into the ocean bottom. This so-called Texas tower was an adaptation …

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Cape Henry (New) Lighthouse

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 …

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Cape Henry (Old) Lighthouse

A provision for building a lighthouse at Cape Henry, at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, was made by Congress on March 26, 1790. The amount was for $24,076.66. The light was to be an octagonal structure with three windows in the east and four windows in the west rising 72 feet from the water …

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Cape Charles Lighthouse

The first lighthouse at this site was completed in 1828. It was a 60-foot masonry tower that was painted white. In 1856 $35,000 was appropriated for a new tower. Work started in 1860 and at the start of the Civil War was only 83 feet tall. The Confederates raided the site and destroyed the light …

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Assateague Island

In 1833, the original Assateague Lighthouse was established on Assateague Island at a cost of $55,000. In 1867, a new lighthouse was built on a land bluff that was thirty-one feet above mean low water and positioned on the southerly part of Assateague Island. The lighthouse replaced the original lighthouse whose tower’s height proved not …

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