It started its run as a poorly visible light atop a story and a half structure. Today, it is seen by 5,000 – 8,000 people a day on weekends during the summer months. Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse is perhaps the most visible lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay, although not everyone knows what they are looking at. Now, thanks to the Chesapeake Chapter and Chief Designer volunteer Jennifer Jones, thousands of people will be able to read about the little Victorian House on the Bay.
Over Memorial Day weekend, the first of two indoor Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse placards was installed in the Marina Store. The second one is slated to be displayed at headquarters. An outdoor placard has been approved, and Park Manager Dorna Cooper and Assistant Park Manager Jay Kenty are excited to show off the new interpretive signage to their visitors. Sandy Point Park is the most visited state park in Maryland and its namesake lighthouse is a shining feature attraction.
Questions began soon after the placard was posted. What are the current owners going to do with the lighthouse? (Owner Vince Marks would like to restore it to its original state.) Are they currently doing anything? (Scaffolding was set up at the beginning of last summer, and the damaged cornices were removed so replicas could be fabricated. First on the agenda is repairing the severely damaged roof.) And, the question we all have asked – why did they destroy the priceless Fresnel lens with a baseball bat? (Ah, that is a question without an answer. As the culprits were never caught, we may never know.)
The original Sandy Point Lighthouse was built in 1857 on slightly more than two acres acquired from Baptist and Mary Mezick for $526. Mezick Pond, in front of the marina, is the waterway entry into the Park, located next to the western anchor site of the Bay Bridge.
The four-room, integral lighthouse structure was located 600 feet north of the point. Ranger Kenty believes he may have found remnants of the five-foot brick cistern that was built nearby.
Additionally, it is believed part of the bulkhead from the plank walk that was built to run materials out to the current lighthouse still exists.
The current caisson light is located just over a half mile from shore. Perhaps due to its proximity to shore, the lighthouse was completed in record time. Construction began on August 11, 1883 and was finished on October 18, 1883. However, the light was not exhibited until October 30, as mariners had to be given due notice before it could be lit.
Sandy Point is the second of the placards to be placed. The template was designed by the South River History Club, and the research, text, and layout were developed by chief programs volunteer, Jennifer Jones. The first indoor placard, Love Point, was placed in November 2017 at the Chesapeake Heritage and Visitors Center in Chester, Maryland. Next up are Greenbury Point and Thomas Point Shoal. Stop in at Sandy Point State Park Marina or Headquarters to see what the hype is about, and for a limited time, receive a postcard version of the Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse sign.
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The Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, MD. 1973.
Holland, F. Ross.
Maryland Lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay.
Maryland Historical Trust Press. Crownsville, MD. The Friends of
St. Clement’s Island Museum, Inc. Colton’s Point, MD. 1997.
Eastwind Publishing. Annapolis,
Lighting the Bay: Tales of Chesapeake Lighthouses.
Tidewater Publishers. Centreville, MD. 1996.