Timeline: Point of Shoals Lighthouse

1837: A request is made by Beverly Kennon, Captain of the United States Navy, to construct a lighthouse at three locations along the James River in Virginia; Day’s Point, Point of Shoals and Deep Water & Lyon’s Creek Shoals.

1850: The U. S. Lighthouse Board authorizes $3,500 for preliminary work in the engineering & design for four lighthouses on the James River.

1852: On August 31, Congress appropriates $5,000 for the construction of a screwpile lighthouse at Deep Water Shoal.

1854: Construction begins on a 20-foot square, screwpile lighthouse.

1855: Construction of the lighthouse is completed and first exhibited on February 6, 1855.

1862: On June 28, lighthouse engineer G. Caster Smith, reports that the lighthouse is damaged and all coal, lamp oil & lenses from all James River Lighthouses are gone. On July 11, G. Caster Smith returns to the lighthouse with an oil stand, lens lantern, fuel, and supplies. The new lantern is installed, and he explains lighting procedures to the keepers at the station. After the withdrawal of the Army from the peninsula, the light is no longer necessary, and the apparatus is taken down and stored at Fort Monroe.

1865: The lighthouse is slightly damaged during the Civil War and is provided with a new lighting apparatus and fog bell and temporarily put back in service.

1867: A new boat is delivered to the station.

1868: Miscellaneous repairs are made to the framework and railing around the gallery. The dwelling is painted inside and out. It is recommended that the existing constant level lamp be replaced by a Franklin lamp.

1869: The mast-head light is replaced with a sixth-order lens fitted with a Funck’s lamp. The U.S. Lighthouse Board notes that the lighthouse is unsafe and will likely be carried away in the winter if the ice is heavy. It is recommended to replace the current structure with an improved design.

1870: Congress appropriates $10,500 to replace the current structure, as it is in imminent danger of being washed away by ice floes. The plans are approved for a hexagonal lighthouse using wooden piles covered with cast iron screw sleeves.

1871: Construction of a new hexagonal shaped screwpile lighthouse with a sixth-order Fresnel lens exhibiting a fixed white light is completed.

1872: The lighthouse is supplied with a machine operated fog bell machine.

1886: Head Keeper Thomas Curtis notes that he felt three shocks of an earthquake on August 31. The first shock was felt at 9:50 p.m. followed by 2 more shocks 5 minutes apart. He noted that the first shock was very heavy.

1899: New model fifth-order lamps are installed in June and various repairs are made.

1932: The structure is demolished, and a new illuminating apparatus is installed on top of a pipe tower.

1933: The automated light is discontinued.

Sources:
1. Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board, various years.
2. Forgotten Beacons, Patrick Hornberger & Linda Turbyville, 1997.
3. Screwpiles, The Forgotten Lighthouses, Larry Saint, Karla Smith, John H. Sheally II, Phyllis Speidell, 2018

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