Lower Cedar Point Lighthouse

Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard

The Potomac River was filled with dangerous shoals and narrow turns, so the need for safe navigation was especially important for mariners. In 1825, A 72-ton wood schooner with a single light, “DD”, was stationed at Lower Cedar Point Station on the Potomac River. In 1861, Confederate forces boarded and burned the ship. In 1864, a second light vessel, LV-24, was placed at Lower Cedar Point. It was a 115-ton wood vessel with an iron day marker, 2 lanterns, each having 8 oil lamps.

A square screwpile lighthouse was built in 1867 in the middle of the Potomac River downstream from the Potomac River Bridge (US 301) near Dahlgren, VA. It was equipped with a hand-operated fog bell, and a fifth-order lens with a Franklin lamp, exhibiting a fixed white light. The light was first displayed in October. In 1888, a fixed red sector was inserted into the light

The lighthouse was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day 1893. Keeper Grimes was not at the station and Assistant Keeper Fields reported that he had no idea how the fire started, as he was able to escape with much difficulty. A lens lantern was immediately placed on the substructure to mark this important navigation point in the Potomac River.

In 1895, Congress appropriated $25,000 to rebuild the lighthouse. In 1896, the framing of the structure was done at Lazaretto Depot. On July 10, the structure and workers were loaded onto the tender Jessamine and arrived at the site two days later. The existing iron foundation was not damaged from the fire except for two columns, which were removed and replaced with new ones. The new square, white frame dwelling was equipped with a fourth-order lens exhibiting a fixed white light which was first exhibited on September 5, 1896.

On October 10, 1896, the red sector was removed, and the fourth-order light showed a fixed white light and a fog bell struck at intervals of twelve seconds. The lighthouse was deactivated, and the cottage was dismantled in 1951. A skeleton tower was built on the original lighthouse foundation.

The skeleton tower is visible from Cedar Beach on the Maryland side and from the Harry Nice Bridge (US 301) over the river.

Head Keepers:  Stanislaus Ferrall (1867), Thomas F. Burroughs (1867 – 1868), Benjamin F. Langley (1868 – 1869), Francis M. Moore (1869 – 1870), Robert Darnell (1870 – 1875), Samuel A. Conway (1875 – 1883), James Payne (1883), George Grayson (1884), John Williams (1884 – 1885), Zachariah Wood (1885 – 1888), Joseph A. Neale (1889 – 1891), Joseph Hopkins (1891 – 1892), Otho Bounds (1892 – 1893), Benjamin R. Grymes, Jr. (1893 – 1894), William K. Slacum (1894), James A. Arnold (1896 – at least 1919), Loren E. Tillett ( – 1920), Barney C. Thomas (1920 – 1925), Thomas Steinhise (1919), William G. Rollinson (1925 – 1927), James W. Simpson (1927 – at least 1929), Edward Farrows (at least 1930 – at least 1931), Henry L. Matthews (at least 1939)

Assistants: Benjamin F. Langley (1867 – 1868), T.J. Cliff (1868 – 1869), Richard A. Oliver (1869 – 1870), William N. Smallwood (1869 – ), John F. Parker (1870 – 1871), Orlando Evans (1871 – 1874), Samuel A. Conway (1874 – 1875), Lindsay Beverly (1875), H.A. Braxton (1875), Philip F. Morris (1875 – 1877), William F. Dangerfield (1877 – 1880), A.R. Johnson (1880 – 1882), Austin Brizendine (1890), Daniel B. Marmaduke (1890), Charles H. Mason (1890 – 1891), Benjamin R. Grymes, Jr. (1893), John Field ( 1893), John H. Williams (1897 – 1898), William B. Clifton (1898 – 1899), Joseph F. Mercer (1899), John H. Williams (1899 – 1915), Thomas C. Lonergan (1915 – ), John M. Stowe (1916), Otho Bounds (1916), John H. Williams (1916 – 1919), Caleb W. Evans (1919 – 1920), Charles B. Quidley (at least 1921), Julius K. Akerstrom (1922 – ), John L. Callis (1925 – at least 1926), Franklin S. Barnes (at least 1926 – at least 1940)

Updated 5/7/2019


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Geocache

GPS: 38.3400,-76.9930

 

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