Timeline: Hawkins Point Lighthouse

1866: Congress appropriates $30,000 on July 28, 1866, to construct two lights to mark Brewerton Channel, on the Patapsco River, Maryland. The front light is to be built on a shoal at Hawkins Point and the rear light is to be built on Leading Point, a total of 1-1/8 mile apart.

1867: Construction begins on Hawkins Point Lighthouse, the front range light of Brewerton Channel.

1868: Hawkins Point Lighthouse is completed, a rectangular screwpile structure with a thirty-four-foot tall tower built on top and equipped with two lights. One light was on top of the wooden tower with a 70’ focal plane and the other light located inside the building’s top floor with a 28’ focal plane. The lights are exhibited for the first time on November 1, 1868.

1870: In a U.S. Lighthouse Board Inspection Report it is noted that the structure leaks badly and the pipe on the cook stove causes it to smoke so much that it is impossible to keep a fire going.

1878: The U.S. Lighthouse Board notes that it is impossible to keep the roof of the lower building from leaking and wood on the upper portion of the structure is decaying rapidly. It is recommended to rebuild the structure unless one of the lights is discontinued.

1879: The upper light is discontinued on May 1, 1879.

1881: A new tin roof is installed on the lighthouse.

1885: A gallery is constructed around the house and the lower stairway is removed to the outside to give more space. A new landing platform is constructed under the house, miscellaneous repairs are made throughout the house and then painted inside and out.

1886: The owner of a tract of land not far from the lighthouse known as “Hawkins Point Farm”, requests removal of the lighthouse, stating that it interferes with improvements he wants to make to his land. The owner of the farm also stated that the tract of land where the lighthouse is located was included “in a tract of submerged land granted to a former owner under a patent used by the governor of Maryland in 1861”. An attempt is made to purchase the land from the owner, but the price was outrageous. The Government deemed that it may be necessary “to procure the land under the condemnation law of the State”.

1887: On February 8, 1887, the U.S. Lighthouse board appoints a committee to report the value of the land where the lighthouse is constructed. The committee visits the site on February 22 and reports that the owner of the land should be offered $2,500 for a circular area of two acres where the lighthouse stands. The offer, however, was declined and the issue was put back into the hands of the U.S. Government to take steps for “condemnation of the property”.

1888: The smokestack was replaced and repaired after being blown down during a storm in July. A petition for condemnation of the land is filed in the circuit court of Anne Arundel County on November 28, 1888.

1889: The smokestack was removed and replaced with a new one. The case was moved to the United States Circuit Court after the landowner, Thomas C. Chappell, filed an ejectment suit against the keeper of Hawkins Point Lighthouse, James M. Waterworth. The judge in the case ruled “private interest in the submerged soil at the bottom of the river…was subject to the paramount right of the public to use the river for navigation, and of the United States, in the regulation of commerce, to erect thereon such aids to navigation as were reasonably necessary.”

1890: After multiple appeals to the Lighthouse Board from Mariners as to the importance of Leading Point Light and Hawkins Point Light, measures were taken to purchase the easement so that the lights would not be obstructed. The judge ordered the owner of the land, Chappell, to receive $3,500 in damages and $1,000 for the services of the United States attorneys.

1891: On March 3, 1891, Congress appropriates $4,500, of which $3,500 to be paid to Chappell and $1,000 to be paid to U.S. attorneys.  In July, brush and trees are removed from a 65-foot strip wide of land extending across Hawkins Point to widen the range for Brewerton Channel.

1897: Trees and underbrush are cut down which interfered with the range between Hawkins Point and Leading Point Lighthouse.

1913: The lighthouse is damaged on March 7, when a freighter, Alum Chine, loaded with dynamite explodes and sinks in twelve feet of water not far from Hawkins Point Lighthouse.

1915: In April, the light is changed from a fixed white light to an automatic flashing light, flashing every second. On April 16, William Raabe, Head Keeper at Leading Point Lighthouse, became the keeper of both lighthouses and the lights officially become the Brewerton Channel Front and Rear Range lights.

1924: The lighthouse is demolished, and an automatic light is installed on the remaining screwpile foundation.

2015: The light on the old screwpile foundation is removed and a new light consisting of solar panels is built in the river to serve as the front light of Brewerton Range.

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.

Permanent link to this article: https://cheslights.org/template-timeline-hawkins-point-lighthouse/