Hambrooks Bar Light*

Hambrooks Bar Light 2019-Photo courtesy Greg Krawczyk

Hambrooks Bar Light 2011-Photo courtesy Greg Krawczyk

Red buoy #24 near Hambrooks Bar light-2019-Photo courtesy Greg Krawczyk

This aid to navigation is in about 4 feet of water on Hambrook Bar on the south side of the Choptank River and approximately 1-1/2 miles northwest from the entrance to Cambridge.

On December 11, 1900, Representative Kerr, of Maryland, introduces a bill to the Committee on Commerce to establish a beacon light on Hambrook Bar and two range lights to show the entrance to Cambridge Harbor, Choptank River, Maryland. The report reads as follows:

“The commercial needs of the establishment of a beacon light on Hambrook Bar, Choptank River, Maryland, and range lights for the purpose of entering the harbor of Cambridge, a town of nearly 6,000 inhabitants, are very apparent when the following facts are considered: The commercial statistics for the calendar year 1899 relative to Choptank River, Maryland, chow the tonnage to be 21,399 tons, valued at $1,040,957 as against 6,904 tons, valued at $164,192 in 1890. In the absence of any accurate data as to the town of Cambridge, where said beacon and range lights are to be established, it is fair to state that the receipts and shipments of the town would easily reach more than one-half of the total, the oyster business alone amounting to more than $250,000 annually.

Besides this there are large quantities of canned goods, lumber, fertilizers, coal, etc., being shipped from the town daily, and there is a steady growth of commerce. Three steamboat lines are operating between Cambridge and Baltimore, two daily and one triweekly, and at least 200 small oyster craft leaving and entering the harbor daily. There are also numerous large coasting vessels bringing lumber, coal, etc., to the town, and, under existing conditions, they experience great difficulty in entering this harbor owing to the imperfect lighting of the river. Hambrook Bar is very dangerous to navigation, and not infrequently vessels have been wrecked thereon. The range lights to enter Cambridge Harbor are equally necessary, for the reason that there is absolutely nothing to guide the mariner into the harbor. The necessity of this much-needed improvement is very clear, and would not only benefit Cambridge, but would also be a great benefit to general navigation.”

The Treasury Department recommends revising the bill to include “at a cost not to exceed ten thousand dollars.” Representative Kerr revises the bill as recommended and is very anxious to see the matter “brought to a successful conclusion, as it is of great moment to the shipping of that vicinity.”

On February 8, 1901, Congress authorized and approved the bill to establish the beacon light on Hambrook Bar and beacon range lights. On March 3, 1901, Congress appropriates $10,000 to construct the lights.

Lighthouse engineer, Lt. Col. W. A. Jones and assistant engineer, Captain Murdock, visit the site in June where borings are made. They determine that the site is sufficient for the construction of the light.

Completed in 1902, the structure is a 15-foot tall red conical shaped cast iron concrete caisson painted red and white.

The light was extinguished by the Coast Guard during WWII, along with many other lighthouses in the area.

In September 1991, crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Red Cedar spent 4 days refurbishing the light. Repairs included painting, new railing around the top, and replacing hinges and the latch on the door. The light’s solar panel was also relocated to increase the ability to recharge the battery that powers the light. The automated optic is a 250mm acrylic lens. Only a minimal amount of sandblasting was done prior to painting, as well as checking for lead and other toxins prior to starting the job.

In 2020, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded a contract to have the Hambrooks Bar light demolished. A non-lighted red buoy, #24 is already in place near the light to mark Hambrooks Bar for local navigation.

Keepers:

Levi B. Leonard (1902-1911), Thomas Leonard (1911), Captain Milbourne F. Cannon (1911-1915), Samuel E. Andrews (1915-1919)

Sources:

  1. Congressional Serial Set, 56th Congress, 2nd Session, 1900, Report No. 1908
  2. The Baltimore Sun, various years
  3. The Star Democrat, various years

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