Congress appropriated $50,000 on August 30, 1890, to establish a lighthouse at Maryland Point. Maryland Point lighthouse was in the middle of the Potomac River halfway between Fairview Beach, VA, and Caledon Natural Area State Park in King George County, VA. The Lighthouse Board noted, “The channel of the river is quite narrow here and there is but ten feet of water on the apex of the shoal at low stages.” Prior to the lighthouse being constructed, a day marker marked the shoal since 1849. Borings were made in November to determine the design of the foundation.
Work on the superstructure was done at Lazaretto Depot and completed by the end of August 1892. On October 18, workers were loaded on the tender Jessamine, and materials were towed on a flat bottom boat by the tender Thistle. Engineers had previously determined that the bottom configuration of the screwpiles would need an additional 5-foot diameter disk, which rested on the surface of the shoal. Seven 40-foot long wrought iron screwpiles were driven 13-feet into the shoal varying in diameter from 7 inches at the top to 10 inches at the bottom of the screw end. By the end of October, the crew began construction of the dwelling.
The lighthouse was a white hexagonal structure with green shutters and red roof, nine rooms, equipped with a fourth-order lens exhibiting a flashing white light that was displayed for the first time on December 15, 1892. It was also equipped with a machine operated fog bell sounding a double blow at intervals of 15 seconds during foggy weather.
In 1896, 2,000 tons of riprap were equally placed above and below the lighthouse to act as ice breakers during the brutal winters. An additional 300 tons of granite was added in 1905.
On February 5, 1920, fearing for their safety, Keeper Charles H. Applegarth and his assistant keeper abandoned the lighthouse because of heavy ice floes. They returned five days later to find no damage to the structure.
In 1954, the lighthouse was automated and in 1963 it was dismantled and moved to the Portsmouth Depot. It was replaced by a light mounted on a skeletal tower attached to the screwpile foundation. As of 2020, it is still an active aid to navigation.
- Keeper Bio: Loch Weems Humphreys
- Keeper Bio: William Kirwan Slacum
- Timeline: Maryland Point Lighthouse
- Maryland Point Lighthouse
Head Keepers: John Peterson (1892 – 1896), James B. Williams (1896 – 1897), William K. Slacum (1897 – 1898), John B. Fitzhugh (1898 – 1901), John E. Faulkner (1901 – 1905), Loch W. Humphreys (1905 – 1909), George S. Holland (1909 – 1914), Charles H. Applegarth (1914 – at least 1925), John E. Morgan (1925 – at least 1926), J.M. Marchant (at least 1930), John F. Riley (1936 – 1940), Henry R. Hanberry (at least 1942), George W. Austin (1944 – 1954)
Assistants: William J. Leary (1892), Augustus A. Creighton (1893), Joseph I. Bowling (1893 – 1895), John B. Fitzhugh (1895 – 1898), Albert Olsen (1898 – 1899), John H. Grain (1899 – 1900), George P. Hudgins (1900), Henry T. Peregoy (1900), Lawrence Lee (1901), Charles F. Taylor (1900-1901), Joseph B. Dailey (1901), Richard M. Grymes (1901 – 1902), Amasa Fulcher (1901 – 1903), Andrew J. Jarvis (1903), Samuel R.J. Norris (1903), Joseph F. Mercer (1903 – 1905), Charles S. Hudgins (1905 – 1906), George W.T. Ward (1906 – 1907), Thomas L. Fulcher (1907), Clarence D. Morris (1907 – 1911), Charles A. Larsen (1911 – at least 1915), Harry O. Monsell ( – 1917), Andrew J. Jarvis (1917 – 1918), Thomas H. Tolson (1918 – at least 1919), Colburn Shores ( – 1921), Severn C. Parks (1921 – 1939), George F. Hudgins (1932 – 1933)