Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard
A lightship was maintained for 14 years from 1853-1867, at Tangier Sound to mark the entrance to the Little Annamessex River just west of Crisfield, MD. In 1850, Congress appropriated $8,000 to construct a lighthouse to replace the lightship. This hexagonal lighthouse was completed, and the fourth-order Franklin lens was first exhibited on October 7, 1867.
On January 20, 1879, the first lighthouse was destroyed by moving ice. Congress appropriated $25,00 to construct a replacement lighthouse on March 3, and it was decided by the Lighthouse Board to use the same plans that had been used for the Hooper Strait Lighthouse. Work on the superstructure began at Lazaretto Depot in May and was completed in August 1879. On November 13, the workers and materials left Baltimore on the lighthouse tender Tulip and arrived at the construction site the next day. After completing the construction platform, the center pile was driven into position on November 14 and by the 22nd, all the foundation and ironwork was completed. Construction of the hexagonal screwpile began and was completed in the first week of December. The fourth-order fixed white light was first exhibited on December 20, 1879.
In the winter of 1893, the fog bell was wrenched from its support by floating ice and severely damaged the boat and boat hoisters. When the bell was finally recovered, it was found to be cracked and unable to be repaired. The bell and the boat hoister were replaced from the wreck of Solomons Lump Lighthouse.
In the winter of 1893, the fog bell was wrenched from its fastenings by floating ice and severely damaged the boat hoist and boat besides the bell itself. Spare parts were obtained from the wreck of Solomons Lump Light. The second Janes Island Lighthouse was destroyed by moving ice in 1935 after floating around Tangier Sound for three days and finally sinking. No photos are available.
Keeper Henry S. Moore was commended by the Secretary of Commerce for rescuing two men stranded in their boat in dangerous ice by taking them to the lighthouse and furnishing them with food on February 13, 1917. Keeper Moore was stationed at the lighthouse a total of 33 years and worked up until one week before his death in August 1918.
Dangerous ice threatened the lighthouse once again in the winter of 1935. Keeper Luther E. Bozman followed orders to abandon the lighthouse, so he walked across the ice to shore just before the lighthouse was swept away. Locals remember seeing the structure floating for days in Tangier Sound before it eventually sank.
In 1936, the lighthouse was replaced by a 15-foot diameter, interlocking steel sheet pile structure lined with 24-inch thick reinforced concrete, supported on wooden piles. The cylinder was filled with gravel and capped with a concrete slab. As of 2020, the skeletal tower is still an important beacon for mariners entering or leaving Virginia waters in the Tangier Sound.
- Keeper Bio: Henry Columbus Sterling
- Timeline: Janes Island Lighthouse
- Keeper Bio: William James Kelly
- Janes Island Lighthouse
Head Keepers: Noah M. Lawson (1867 – 1871), Job Moore (1871 – 1879), William Riley Byrd (1879 – 1881), Seth W. Blades (1882 – 1883), J.D. Somers (1883 – 1889), John L. Ashmead (1889 – 1890), Henry S. Moore (1890 – 1918), George S. Holland (at least 1919 – at least 1925), Luther E. Bozman (at least 1928 – at least 1936), Alexander S. Asher (at least 1939 – at least 1940)
First Assistant: Thomas Cole (1867 – 1869), Mrs. N. M. Lawson (1869 – 1871), William H. Sterling (1871 1874), John W. Lawson (1874 – 1876), John F. Ward (1876 – 1879), Seth W. Blades (1879 – 1881), John Whittington (1881 – 1883), Thomas B. Tyler (1883 – 1884), Henry S. Moore (1884), Orin Sears (1884 – 1888), John L. Ashmead (1888 – 1889), Edward R. Somers (1889 – 1892), Robert H. Sterling (1893 – 1900), Arthur Small (1900 – 1901), Orrin Sears (1901), Walter C. Carew (1901 – 1902), Henry C. Sterling (1902 – 1903), Julius W. Truitt (1903 – 1907), Charles C. Tyler (1907), George S. Holland (1907 – 1908), George S. Holland (1908 – at least 1917), Luther E. Bozman (19181921), William J. Kelly (1921 – at least 1930), Gordy Z. Parks (1930s)
Second Assistant: Gordy Z. Parks (1927 – at least 1930), Robert Bradshaw (at least 1930)