Timeline: Sharkfin Shoal Lighthouse

1887:   The U.S. Lighthouse Board recommends building a screwpile lighthouse on Sharkfin Shoal at a price of $25,000. This light station would take the place of Clay Island lighthouse, which is being washed away due to erosion and needs many expensive repairs.

1889:   Congress appropriates $25,000 to construct the lighthouse at Sharkfin Shoal. Borings are made at the site to determine what type of structure would be best suited.

1890:   Plans and specs are prepared, and proposals are advertised in January for the metalwork. In April, the construction of the wooden superstructure begins at Lazaretto Depot in Baltimore, MD.

1891:   The superstructure is completed and ready for transportation to the site.

1892:   The superstructure and workers are loaded on a barge and towed to the site on June 3. The hexagonal lighthouse is equipped with a fourth-order lens and first exhibited on August 1.

1899:   New model fourth-order lamps are installed, and materials are supplied for repairing the roof, gutters, and downspouts.

1901:   Soundings are made around the lighthouse and various repairs are made.

1915:   Keeper Walter C. Carew is awarded the efficiency gold star.

1918:   Keeper Walter C. Carew rescues two men in a small boat and cares for them at the lighthouse from February 2 until February 8. Keeper Carew is awarded the commissioners’ efficiency star.

1947:   Keeper Charles E. Palmquist is sent to Hooper Strait Lighthouse in the 23-foot station boat to remove Keeper G.F. Cottee. The boat catches on fire and both men are killed.

1964:   The lighthouse is dismantled and an automatic light on a skeletal tower is mounted on the remaining 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. The Daily Times (Salisbury, Maryland), December 23, 1947

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