Leading Point Lighthouse

On July 28, 1866, Congress appropriated $30,000 to construct two lights that would mark the Brewerton Channel on the south shore of the Patapsco River approaching Baltimore Harbor. The rear light, Leading Point, was built on a high bluff of land approximately one mile from the front light, Hawkins Point, built on a shoal in six feet of water. When ships were on the true course coming or going through the channel, the three lights from the two lighthouses could be seen in line, one above the other, and guide them through the channel safely.

Leading Point Lighthouse was built on a bluff approximately one mile west of Hawkins Point Lighthouse. It was a brick, 2-story dwelling with a lantern on the roof, with an unusual black ball day signal protruding through the roof. It was equipped with fourth-order Franklin lamps exhibiting a fixed white light. The focal plane was 40-feet above the ground and 70-feet above the water.

From the 1870s through the 1960s, a quarantine station was set up by the U.S. Public Health Department not far from the lighthouse. Any ships from foreign ports were required to stop at the station for inspection of passengers and crew.

On April 16, 1915, William Raabe, keeper at the Leading Point Lighthouse, became keepers of both lighthouses and the lights officially became known as the Brewerton Channel Front and Rear Range lights. His salary increased from $520 per year to $676 per year for tending both lights.

In 1924, electrical power is available at Leading Point, making the need for a keeper obsolete. The dwelling is demolished, and a 55-foot tall galvanized skeleton pipe tower is constructed on the range line in front of the dwelling. The new tower supported two 18-inch locomotive lights, placed one above the other. The final cost for this tower and lights was approximately $2,400.

Keepers: Thomas S. Hamlin (1868 – 1869), John Cooper (1869 – 1872), Van Buren Ijams (1872 – 1882), Edward North (1882 – 1883), Thomas Henderson (1883 – 1894), William Raabe (1894 – 1909), Fred Raabe (1909 – 1910), William Raabe (1910 – at least 1917), Edward Farrow (at least 1919 – 1924).

Sources:
1. Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board, various years.
2. Forgotten Beacons, Patrick Hornberger & Linda Turbyville, 1997.
3. Maryland Lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay, F. Ross Holland, 1997
4. Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of Finances, various years

Updated July 2019


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