Cobb Point Bar Lighthouse, also known as Cobb Island Bar, was built to mark the entrance to the Wicomico River from the Potomac River. Prior to the construction, passenger vessels often traveled up the river, only to become grounded on a bar the extended five miles. The U.S. Lighthouse Board originally made the initial request in 1885 to construct a lighthouse at this location at a price of $15,000. Receiving no response, the Lighthouse Board once again repeated its request in 1887 and Congress authorized the lighthouse and provided the funds requested.
The lighthouse was a square screwpile supported by five iron screw piles. It was prefabricated at Lazaretto Depot using the same plans as the light at Tangier Sound in Virginia. The prefabricated sections were brought to the site and construction began on November 1, 1889, and was completed by the end of November. Fitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens displaying a fixed white light, the light was first exhibited on December 25, 1889. The station was also equipped with a machine operated fog bell.
During the winter of 1917-1918, the foundation pilings showed evidence of skewing. To protect it from further damage, 800 tons of riprap were placed on the southeast side of the structure to form an ice breaker and help prevent damage from future ice floes.
The structure was heavily damaged by fire in 1939. It was believed to be accidentally started by the keeper on duty after dropping a cigarette into the woodpile below the dwelling. An automated light was placed on the screwpile foundation in 1940.
The current light is a small navigation beacon mounted on the original foundation. On nautical charts, this area is called “Lighthouse Lumps”. Located off Cobb Island at the western entrance to the Wicomico River; visible from many points on the south side of Cobb Island (end of MD 254).
Photo Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
Head Keepers: James L. Weems (1890 – 1891), William S. Brown (1891 – 1897), Charles Robinson (1897 – 1901), Charles W. Hartmann (1901 – 1903), John H. Grain (1903), Michael Cotter (1903 – 1907), H.C. Wingate (1907 – 1908), William K. Slacum (1908 – 1910), Ole O. Johnson (1910 – at least 1927), William M. Goeshy (1928 – 1929), James W. Wilson (at least 1939)
Assistant Keepers: Obed T. Dize (1893 – 1895), John H. Williams (1896 – 1897), James C. Evans (1898 – 1899), James D. Wilkins (1899), George M. Gaskins (1899 – 1900), Charles E. Robinson (1900), Robert S. Austin (1900), Jesse M. Shockley (1900 – 1901), George A. Fowler (1901), Charles A. Sterling (1901 – 1902), John Williams (1902), Albert J. Lomax (1902 – 1905), Charles F. Hayden (1905 – 1909), W.T. Brooks (1909 – 1911), Sheldon R. Van Houter (1911 – 1912), Robert Kuhn (1912 – 1915), Charles C. Harding (1915), John H. Williams ( – 1916), George H. Cullison (1916 – 1919), Walter W. Thomas (at least 1919 – 1925), William A. Gibbs (1925 – 1927), Thomas J. Steinhise (at least 1928 – 1929), Alaska D. Jennette (at least 1930 – at least 1939).