Category: Heritage-Virginia

Timeline: Wolf Trap Lighthouse

(Located three miles offshore, between the York & entrance to Rappahannock Rivers, Mathews County, VA – 03-14-18) 1821 Lightship stationed on Wolf Trap Shoal. 1861 Confederate troops destroy lightship. 1864 Lightship station re-established. 1870 Screw pile lighthouse built on shoal. 1893 Lighthouse destroyed by ice floes and swept 20 miles down the bay, settling near …

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Timeline: Thimble Shoal Lighthouse

(Located 3.5 miles east of Old Point Comfort, at the mouth of James River, Hampton Roads, VA – Updated 5/27/2020) 1821: Lightship stationed near Thimble Shoal. 1872: First lighthouse, a screwpile, erected. 10/30/1880: Screwpile cottage destroyed by fire. Foundation survives. 12/24/1880: Screwpile cottage, destined for Bells Rock, VA installed instead on existing ironwork. 2nd fog …

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Timeline: Smith Point Lighthouse

(Located 80 miles south of Baltimore on the Virginia side of the entrance of the Potomac River, 2.5 miles east-southeast of Smith Point) 1802-93 Two land-based lighthouses, two lightships and one screwpile in service. 1893 Screwpile damaged by ice. Keepers abandon station. 1895 Screwpile carried away by ice. 1897 Present 52 foot tall caisson light …

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Timeline: Newport News Middle Ground Lighthouse

(Located at the confluence of the James River and the Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads, Newport News, VA. Oldest caisson lighthouse in Virginia. Updated 5/27/2020) 1891: 56-foot tall caisson with tower and cast-iron lantern built on L-shaped Middle Ground shoal. Five levels with basement in the top of the caisson. Fitted with 4th-order Fresnel lens and …

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Timeline: New Point Comfort Lighthouse

(Located at the entrance of Mobjack Bay, 21 miles north of Old Point Comfort, in Mathews County, VA. Visible from observation platform /walkway at VA Nature Conservancy’s New Point Comfort Preserve, Bavon, VA – Updated 5/27/2020 1804: 58-foot octagonal cut-stone tower, 3rd oldest lighthouse on the Bay built by the first keeper, Elzy Burroughs. 1865: …

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Timeline: Jones Point Lighthouse

(Located one mile south of Alexandria, VA – on west bank of Potomac River, Jones Point Park, just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge) (Revised-04/18/13) 1856 Present white wooden frame dwelling with integral roof-mounted black lantern constructed by Charles Church. Illumination by whale oil lamps in 5th –order Fresnel lens. 1858 Light fueled by newly …

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Timeline: Assateague Island Lighthouse

(Located within Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Chincoteague, VA) 1833 First brick tower, 45 foot tall, built. 1860 Construction of second and present tower begun. Work suspended during the Civil war. 1866-1867 Construction of 142 foot brick tower resumed and completed. Fitted with first-order Fresnel lens. Large keepers’ dwelling constructed. 1874 Life-saving station established three miles …

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Lyceum Museum – (4th & 5th Order Fresnel lenses)

The Lyceum is Alexandria’s History Museum. Originally built in 1839 as a community center and library, this elegant Greek revival structure still serves as an educational and cultural focal point. An ongoing exhibition tells the story of Alexandria, founded in 1749 and once one of the busiest ports in America. Using archaeological finds, old photographs, …

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Bowlers Rock Station

Bowlers Rock Station, 1835 – 1868 A total of two lightships were stationed 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, …

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York Spit Lighthouse

York Spit Lighthouse was built in 1870 in the Chesapeake Bay about 5 miles east of Rue Point at the southern entrance to the York River, Virginia. It was to mark a long shoal that paralleled the main channel into the York River eight miles into the Chesapeake Bay. Prior to the construction of the …

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Windmill Point Lighthouse

Photo Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard                 Windmill Point Lighthouse was built in 1869 at the entrance to the Rappahannock River on the north side. Three separate lightships were originally stationed here from 1834 until the lighthouse was constructed. Confederates took the first lightship in 1861. The lighthouse was …

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White Shoal Lighthouse

White Shoal Lighthouse was built in 1855 and was one of three screwpiles lighted on February 6 in the James River. The lighthouse was located below Sandy Point on the lower end of the shoal and on the right side of the main channel heading upriver near Newport News, Virginia. It was built to replace …

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Watts Island Lighthouse

Watts Island Lighthouse was built in 1833 on Little Watts Island, a seven-acre island, just south of Watts Island between the Eastern Shore peninsula and Tangier Island. John Donohoo of Havre De Grace, Maryland built the original brick 48-foot tower in 1833 which was equipped with a fifth-order Fresnel lens at a cost of $4,775. …

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Tue Marshes Lighthouse

Originally called “Too’s Marshes” the Tue Marshes Lighthouse was built in 1875 on the southern shore entrance to the York River on the Goodwin Islands. Built at a price of $15,000, it was a square white screwpile lighthouse with a brown roof, set on a wrought-iron foundation. It was originally equipped with a sixth-order Fresnel …

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Stingray Point Lighthouse

                Stingray Point Lighthouse was built in 1858 at the entrance to the Rappahannock River near Deltaville, Virginia. It was a hexagonal screwpile lighthouse. The lighthouse was automated just prior to being dismantled in 1965. Sections of the lighthouse were sold to Gilbert Purcell, a boatyard owner who …

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Pungoteague Creek Lighthouse

  The first Pungoteague Creek Lighthouse was built in 1854 just offshore near the entrance to the Pungoteague Creek in Accomack County, Virginia. It was built by Major Hartman Bache and was the first screwpile built in the Chesapeake Bay. During the winter of 1854, the superstructure, foundation, and ironwork were completed in Philadelphia, and …

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Old Plantation Flats Lighthouse

Old Plantation Flats Lighthouse was built in 1886 as a white rectangular screwpile with a tower on the roof. The lighthouse was located at the entrance to the channel leading to Cape Charles, Virginia and Old Plantation Creek. The lighthouse had an unusual foundation construction with a combination of screwpile and concrete pylons. The lighthouse …

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Nansemond River Lighthouse

Due to increased river traffic in the Nansemond area, Congress appropriated $15,000 on July 31, 1876, to construct a lighthouse Pig Point on the eastern side of the entrance to the Nansemond River in Suffolk, Virginia. The following year, a tract of land was obtained from the Governor of Virginia to construct the light. The …

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Lambert Point Lighthouse

Lambert Point Lighthouse was built in 1872 on the shore of the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia. It was a square screwpile set on five piles, rather than the six that were planned. The house was brown in color and the lantern had a red light of the fifth order. In 1873, it was reported …

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Killock Shoal Lighthouse

On July 7, 1884, Congress appropriated $10,000 to construct a light on the north end of the Chincoteague Channel just adjacent to Chincoteague Island, known as the Killock Shoal Lighthouse (sometimes spelled Killick). After the site was selected, borings were made at a depth of seventeen feet, which showed that the bottom of the Bay …

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Jordan Point Lighthouse

Jordan Point Lighthouse-1885/National Archives Photo

Jordan Point Lighthouse was built in 1855 in the upper James River near Hopewell, Virginia, twenty miles from Richmond. Jordan Point was one of four early navigational aids on the James River leading to Richmond. The first lighthouse was a white, twenty-four foot by 17-foot rectangular two-story structure supported on stone piers with the lantern …

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Hog Island Lighthouse

The first Hog Island Lighthouse was built in 1852. It was a white conical brick tower equipped with 15 lamps set in 21-inch reflectors exhibiting a fixed white light that could be seen for 13 miles.  Adjacent to the lighthouse was a keeper’s dwelling.  In 1855, the lamps were replaced with a fourth-order Fresnel lens. …

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Great Wicomico River Lighthouse

On October 2, 1888, Congress appropriated $25,000 to build a lighthouse at the mouth of the Great Wicomico River on Virginia’s Western Shore. This would help guide mariners through two shallow shoals at the entrance of the river. Proposals for bids went out in January 1889 for the ironwork. The winning bid was for $13,975 …

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Timeline: Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

(Located at Fort Story, northern end of Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, VA) (Active Military base – Identification, Insurance proof, vehicle search required) (Revised – 03/25/2013) 1791-1792 Ninety-foot tall octagonal tower of sandstone built by John McComb, Jr. of New York for $17,700. First federal works project and first lighthouse built by US government. 1792 Laban …

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Timeline: New Cape Henry Lighthouse

(Located on grounds of Fort Story, northern end of Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA – (Active Military base – Identification, Insurance proof, vehicle search required) (Revised 03/25/2013) 1881 163 foot tall tower of white and black prefabricated cast-iron plates built 350 feet southeast of old tower. Jay Edwards, first keeper lights first-order Fresnel lens. Old …

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Dutch Gap Canal Lighthouse

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 Lighthouse

(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 Shoals Lighthouse

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 Lighthouse

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 …

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