Timeline: Great Shoals Lighthouse

1882:   The Lighthouse Board recommends the construction of a lighthouse at the Great Shoals near the mouth of the Wicomico River at an estimated price of $15,000.

1883:   Congress appropriates $15,000 on March 3, to construct a square screwpile lighthouse at the entrance to the Wicomico River on the Great Shoals. Borings are made by Lighthouse Tender Jessamine, to determine the exact location for the lighthouse.

1884:   Work begins for the framing of the superstructure at Lazaretto depot in Baltimore, in February and all pieces are sent to the site in July. Construction of the screwpile lighthouse is completed in 32 days and the fifth-order lamp was first exhibited on August 15.

1899:   The fog bell machine is repaired, and new model fifth-order lamps are installed. The tin roof is also repaired.

1901:   Soundings are made around the lighthouse, while various repairs are also made.

1905:   The Keeper reports to the lighthouse inspector, Commander McCrea, that the Wicomico river is frozen solid and that he walked ashore to Dame’s Quarter to send his mail.

1914:   Keeper Charles C. Tyler and his assistant, Gary E. Powell, aid a disabled gasoline launch on March 9.

1915:  Keeper Charles C. Tyler is awarded the efficiency gold star.

1916:   Keeper Charles C. Tyler helps a disabled boat, as well as providing them food and shelter on October 30.

1918:   Assistant Keeper William McDorman provides food and lodging to three men who had become lost in foggy weather on December 13.

1920:   Keeper William F. McDorman rescues a motorboat on October 6.

1940:   Lighthouse personnel are removed from the station due to severe ice conditions.

1942:   The light at Great Shoals Lighthouse is blacked out and the fog bell is silenced as a wartime measure.

1943:   On February 22, the keepers are removed from the lighthouse due to severe ice conditions and returned to their stations on March 6.

1966:   Great Shoals Lighthouse is deactivated and replaced by an automatic light mounted on the screwpile foundation.


  1. Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board, various years.
  2. Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of Finances, various years.
  3. Forgotten Beacons, Patrick Hornberger & Linda Turbyville, 1997
  4. Lighting the Bay: Tales of Chesapeake Lighthouses, Pat Vojtech, 1996
  5. The Baltimore Sun, February 7, 1905
  6. Richmond Times Dispatch, January 27, 1940
  7. The Evening Sun, February 22, 1943
  8. The Daily Press, March 6, 1943

Updated 5/27/2020

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