Timeline: York Spit Lighthouse

1837: A request is made to the Secretary of the Treasury to provide a contract for construction of a light vessel on York River Spit, or a lighthouse in Virginia on March 3 for $10,000.

1853: A request is made to the Lighthouse Board from the Custom House Office in Yorktown, Virginia to provide a light vessel at York Spit due to increased traffic on the York River.

1854: Congress appropriates $15,000 for light on or near York Spit on August 3.

1855: A lightship, LV-T, is placed at York Spit.

1861: Confederates remove, sunk or destroyed the lightship sometime in April.

1863: Lightship LV-12 is placed at York Spit and remains until August 2, 1864.

1867: Lightship LV-24 is placed at York Spit.

1869: Lightship “24” is removed temporarily in September to install a new lantern-mast and Lightship “21” is sent to fill in.

1870: A hexagonal, iron screwpile lighthouse is constructed on fourteen wooden piles encased in cast-iron sleeves in twelve feet of water. The fifth-order lens is exhibited for the first time on November 15 and the Lightship is permanently withdrawn.

1874: It is proposed to replace the current fifth-order, fixed red light with a fourth-order lens.

1876: The existing fifth-order lens is replaced with a fourth-order light with a double wick lamp burner.

1887: A new fog bell tower constructed at Lazaretto Depot is installed at the lighthouse and various repairs are made.

1896: The existing fifth-order lens is sent to the lighthouse depot for repair and temporarily replaced by a lens lantern.

1897: The old fog bell machine is replaced.

1899: New model fourth-order lamps are installed, and miscellaneous repairs are made.

1901: Soundings are made in July and October to determine how much erosion is taking place under the lighthouse and around the piles. There is a considerable amount of erosion since the lighthouse was built in 1870.

1903: In December and January, 1,150 tons of riprap stone is placed around the piles to protect the foundation from further damage. In June, another 1,200 tons of riprap is placed.

1916: On August 22, Keeper John F. Hudgins rescues nine people (two men, three women, and four children) from a disabled boat and brought to the lighthouse where they are fed and spend the night.

1921: Repairs are made to the metal substructure. Keeper J.E. Morgan assists a disabled gasoline launch by towing it to safety and helped repair the engine so that they could continue their journey.

1923: Assistant Keeper G. C. Hunley assists a United States seaplane, No. 5060, which became disabled near the lighthouse on January 3. Keeper John E. Morgan rescues people in three canoes caught in a severe thunderstorm on January 3.

1926: Keeper William J. Diggs rescues three soldiers on a fishing trip after a strong wind kept them from reaching shore on September 25.

1928: Assistant Keeper John L. Callis rescues three soldiers drifting in a boat near the lighthouse during a bad storm on August 11.

1933: On August 24, Keeper W.J. Diggs reports that there is major damage to the lighthouse after a bad storm. A temporary light is established until repairs can be made.

1934: The characteristic of the light is changed on December 12.

1936: Keeper William J. Diggs is removed from the lighthouse due to dangerous ice floes.

1960: An automated flashing beacon replaces the lighthouse and the lighthouse is dismantled.

1. Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board, various years.
2. Forgotten Beacons, Patrick Hornberger & Linda Turbyville, 1997.
3. Lighthouse Friends website, accessed 4 January 2020

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