Timeline: Turkey Point Lighthouse

(Located in Elk Neck State Park, Cecil County, MD – the tallest focal plane of any MD lighthouse –- Home to four women keepers – Revised 02/07/2021)

1833 Thirty-five foot masonry tower and wooden keepers’ quarters built by John Donahoo on 100-foot bluff overlooking the Elk and North East Rivers.

1856 Fourth-order Fresnel lens visible for 13 miles installed.

1867  The lantern was completely refitted and designed to properly display the Fresnel lens

1888  In April a fog-bell room erected. At the same time, the fencing was thoroughly repaired and about 180 linear feet of plank walkway was laid from tower to new fog-bell room.

1889  Extensive improvements were made on the keeper’s quarters including raising the roof one story providing an additional “four habitable rooms,” and adding a new front porch.

1897  The “back building used as a kitchen” was torn down and a new one with a porch and pantry built. Two old brick pavements were re-laid and a new one added. A 3-inch-plank walk 240 feet long was also built.

1899  A “new model fourth-order lamp” was installed, the fog bell hammer adjusted, and a new spring for the striking mechanism installed.

1913  Concrete oil house was erected with a 275-gallon black kerosene tank on the west side of it.

1922 Clarence Walter Salter serves as Keeper.

1925 Fannie May (Mae) Salter (43 years old) named keeper by President Calvin Coolidge after the death of her husband.

1933  The oil lamp in the lens was upgraded to an Aladdin incandescent vaporized kerosene lamp. Light Keeper’s house was renovated. A large walnut tree was probably removed at that time. Everything painted white but the sheep barn was painted gray.

1938  The originally installed red sector of the lantern room was described as consisting of two pieces of glass, one 17 1/4 inches wide and one 15 5/8 inches wide, both 1/8-inch thick and 35 1/4 inches long. This was to warn ships of approaching shallows.

1942/3 During World War II, the fog building was modified into a two-story watchtower, with the watch room accessed by an exterior set of stairs. Chesapeake and Delaware Canal became an important inland shipping corridor due to the threat of submarine warfare off the Atlantic. A detachment of Coast Guard personnel was assigned to the station as a precaution against saboteurs

1942/3 – Electricity was installed at Turkey Point. The lighthouse was electrified and an electric foghorn and radiotelephone were installed. A 100-watt bulb in combination with the lens produced 680 candlepower of light.

1947 Salter retires at age 65 after 22 years of service and the light is fully automated.

1948 The light is changed to a white light that flashed every 6 seconds.

1972 Keepers’ house torn down. The original Fresnel lens was later stolen. Light replaced by a plastic lens. Wooden stairs removed and other measures taken to prevent vandalism.

1995 Turkey Point Light Station, Inc. (TPLS) established to restore the light station to its original condition.

2000 US Coast Guard decommissions light.

2002 Light reactivated on November 30 and serves as a private aid to navigation.

2006 Ownership of Turkey Point light tower transferred to MD Department of Natural Resources, Elk Neck State Park. TPLS signs a renewable 30-year lease as Chief Operations Agent to maintain the lighthouse and is raising funds to rebuild Keeper’s house.

2007 New wooden staircase made of white oak (MD State tree) as per original specifications replaces aluminum ladder.

2008 Flagpole erected.

2013  TPLS had the exterior catwalk, railings and the inside of the Lantern Room painted along with the Lighthouse door.

2019 TPLS restored the Kerosene tank and platform.

Source: Bay Beacons by Linda Turbyville and Turkey Point Light Station, Inc.

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