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 in 1864 to create a short cut across an oxbow in the James River.
The keeper’s quarters, a plain frame dwelling, was built on a bluff on what became Farrar’s Island after the completion of the canal. The house was two stories consisting of a parlor, living room and storeroom on the first floor, while the bedrooms were on the second floor. There was also a kitchen built on to the house. The house was moved in 1890 on rollers about 130 feet without the need of much repair due to the erosion of the cliffs.
The lights were often washed away due to flooding and were deactivated and replaced in 1910 with fixed lights. With the installation of the new lights, the keeper’s house was rented out. Over time the house fell into disrepair and was demolished.
The Dutch Gap Canal Lights are now part of an 800-acre conservation area maintained by Henricus Park. There are some ruins that remain of the keeper’s house and the canal has silted and dried up in areas. The gap is easily visible from the southbound I-295 bridge James River Bridge.
Photo of remains of keeper’s quarters on Farrar’s Island.
Head Keepers: Eugene R. Gunn (1875), Robert H. Allen (1875 – 1879), James P. Goodwyn (1879 – 1883), Joseph Pearman (1883 – 1885), Thomas J. Smith (1885), Elijah A. Hozier (1885 – 1908), Charles E. Kirwan (1908 – at least 1917)
Assistant: Preston Foster (1885 – 1886), Andrew Jackson (1886), Charles Y. Roper (1886), Isaac Schwartz (1886), T. Blankenship (1886 – 1887)