Great Shoals Lighthouse

Great Shoals Lighthouse 1952-Photo Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
Remains of Great Shoals Lighthouse
Remains of Great Shoals Lighthouse 2109 by Tony Pasek

Great Shoals Lighthouse was constructed in 1884 at the entrance to the Wicomico River to mark the narrow, deep water channel. It was necessary to support the increasing oyster trade in the area. The Lighthouse Board recommended that a lighthouse be constructed in 1882 and in March 1883, Congress appropriated $15,000 for the construction.

Framework for the square cottage was done at Lazaretto Depot beginning in February 1884 and finished by July 17. It was then disassembled and shipped with the ironwork to the construction site. Workers began screwing the first pile into the river bottom 13-feet deep into the shoal on July 19th and the foundation was completed three days later. On July 26th, the structure was put up and two days later the dwelling was weatherproof. On August 5th, the structure was completed except for painting. Just ten days later, less than one month after the first pile was driven, the Great Shoals Lighthouse went into service on August 15, 1884. Upon completion, the square screwpile was a seven-room, square dwelling painted white equipped with a fifth-order lens exhibiting a fixed white light, and machine-operated fog bell.

The lighthouse was deactivated in 1966 and replaced by an automatic light on the old foundation.

Head Keepers:  J.E. Graves (1884), Zebedee Harper (1884 – 1885), Isaac J. Hearn (1885 – 1889), Joseph W. Disharoon (1889-1890), Somerfield Smith (1890 – 1909), Edward R. Somers (1909 – 1912), Charles C. Tyler (1912 – 1917), George S. Holland (1917 – ), Gary E. Powell (1919 – ), Charles C. Tyler (at least 1921), Henry T. McGrath (1924 – at least 1930), Walter F. McDorman (at least 1939 – at least 1942)

Assistants:  William H. Conway (1884 – 1885), George W. Smith (1885), Isaac J. Hearn (1885), William F. Cathell (1885 – 1887), Robert F. Brewington (1887 – 1888), Joseph W. Disharoon (1888 – 1889), Somerfield Smith (1889 – 1890), Thomas Carew (1891), William M. Insley (1891 – 1893), Howard E. White (1893 – 1895), Daniel A. White (1895 – 1900), Leonard H. Staubly (1900 – 1904), Gary E. Powell (1904 – 1907), Humphrey S. Shores (1906), C.C. Tyler (1906 – 1907), Julius W. Truitt (1907 – 1909), J.O. Casey (1909 – 1910), Gary E. Powell (1910 – at least 1917), William F. McDorman (at least 1918 – 1925), Walter F. McDorman (1925 – at least 1930), Gordy Z. Parks (at least 1939 – at least 1942), Vernon Cooper (at least 1951)

Updated 5/10/2020


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Geocache

GPS: 38.2143,-75.8794


Permanent link to this article: https://cheslights.org/great-shoals-lighthouse/