Chesapeake Chapter USLHS Fundraiser:
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Ice at the Lighthouse!:
We took our first trip of the year out to the lighthouse on February 20th to see how she was faring with this harsh and snowy winter. We were delighted to find a little bit of ice and snow remaining on the rip-rap boulders...
White House Designates U.S. Lighthouse Society a “Preserve America Steward”:
On January 12, 2009, First Lady Laura Bush, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) Chairman John L Nau, III announced that the United States Lighthouse Society was...
Wedding Bells At Lighthouse:
On July 4 th, Sally Ward and Phillip Walker, both of Annapolis, exchanged their wedding vows at the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse...
Amazing Lighthouse Replica:
Gary Gillette, a model-making hobbyist who specializes in replicas of historic buildings, spent over 300 hours making an amazingly authentic 1/48 th scale model of Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse...
Chesapeake Bay just north of the mouth of the South River, south
of Annapolis, Maryland
Built: Original shore light – 1825, Re-built shore
light – 1840, Current screw-pile – 1875
Type of Structure: Hexagonal screw-pile
Height: 43 feet above mean high water
Characteristics: Flashing white
Range: 11 miles
Status: Standing and Active
current Thomas Point light is arguably the most widely recognized lighthouse
in Maryland and is the only screw-pile light on the Chesapeake Bay still
in its original location. (The remaining 3 have been moved to museum
settings.) It is the third light to mark Thomas point shoal.
Thomas Point Shoal Light Station dates back to 1824 when Congress appropriated
$6,500 for construction and outfitting of a 30 foot, land-based, light
tower, a small keepers dwelling, and a well. The seven acres of land
for the site was purchased for $525 and the construction contract was
awarded to John Donahoo and Simon Freeze in February of 1825. The resulting
light was commissioned in December of that year with John Bovis of Baltimore,
Md., providing the Argand style lighting apparatus. Few details exist
about this original light. It is assumed it was built of granite quarried
in Port Deposit, Md. (Donahoo and Freeze were also awarded the construction
contract for the Pooles Island Light at this time and the two projects
were underway simultaneously.) The light stood on a bank overlooking
the Chesapeake Bay, approximately 100 feet from the water. The site
proved particularly susceptible to shore erosion. Stone was initially
laid at the waterline, but the attempts were not sufficient to impede
the erosion. By 1838 the water had come to within 15 feet of the tower
and plans were made to move it.
Go to Historic Photographs
1840 the Fifth Auditor of the Treasury, Stephen Pleasonton, hired Winslow
Lewis to review the site and provide options. For $2,000 Lewis agreed
to re-locate / re-build the tower behind the keepers dwelling using
materials from the original tower. This second tower was 3 feet higher
than the first so the lantern would clear the roof of the keepers dwelling.
It was completed November of that year. In 1855 the lamp was replaced
and a fifth order Fresnel lens installed.
the 19th century progressed, the inadequacy of the shore-based tower
for marking the shoal became increasingly apparent. In 1872 Lewis’
tower was in need of extensive repairs and the Lighthouse Board requested
funds for construction of a new screw-pile light on the shoal itself.
Congress appropriated $20,000 the following March. Given the substantial
ice damage suffered by the Love Point light that winter, the Board revised
their plans, preferring to build a caisson light instead. However, funds
were not available and the Board revised their plans again for a stronger
screw-pile. An additional $15,000 was appropriated to cover the cost.
The new light was completed and commissioned on November 20, 1875 and
exhibited a fourth order Fresnel lens.
methods have been used over the years to protect the station from winter
ice flows on the Bay. In the late 1800s, a cast iron ice breaker, on
its own screw piles, was constructed about 100 feet from the light.
Clusters of pilings and piles of rip rap stone have also been used successfully.
1972 the Coast Guard announced that it was considering plans to automate
the station and dismantle the cottage. The public rallied around the
light and in 1975 it was listed in the National Register of Historic
lighthouse was manned until 1986 and was the last lighthouse on the
Chesapeake Bay to be fully automated. More recently, its image was a
runner up for Maryland’s back of the 2000 U.S. quarter coin.
1999, the lighthouse was designated as a National Historic Landmark,
the highest recognition that a historic structure can receive. It is
only one of nine lighthouses in the country with this designation, which
it received in recognition of it being the only extant and operational
cottage-style screwpile lighthouse in the country still located in its
and drafted by Matthew B. Jenkins, a volunteer, through the Chesapeake
Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society
Read the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse entries in the Annual Reports of the U.S. Lighthouse Board from 1855 to 1901.