Piney Point Things to Do

  • Buoy in 2008
    Buoy in 2008
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  • Buoy in 2000
    Buoy in 2000
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  • Chart of Piney Point
    Chart of Piney Point
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Most Recent Things to Do in Piney Point

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    The Lighthouse

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The main attraction in Piney Point is the lighthouse. It's not one of the tallest, but it dates back to 1836. It suffered severe damage from Hurricane Isabel in 2003, but has been relocated to higher ground. It's now open again, and you can climb the steps to the top.

    The museum has some fine exhibits, covering local history. Also, visit the boathouse to see examples of workboats that once worked on the bay.

    The Piney Point Lighthouse and Museum Exhibit on the US Coast Guard The boathouse A bugeye and skipjack, used for oystering A nearby osprey guards her nest
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    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

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    Piney Point Museum

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The original Piney Point Lighthouse Museum was flooded and closed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003. The building they are now using used to be a garage, and they were setting it up as a museum when we visited during the Annual Piney Point Days in May 2005. The museum was on on-going operation and was expected to be finished in 2008. It includes exhibits on the construction and operation of the Lighthouse.

    The grounds of the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park are open sunrise to sunset 7 days a week.

    The museum, Lighthouse Lens Museum Store, maritime exhibit and lighthouse will open Friday April 13 and offer staffed hours of operation Friday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October. Special opening in December for the holiday season. Please call for dates and times.

    Museum building Back of the building Museum and lighthouse sign Outdoor sign about river commerce Historic marker
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    • Museum Visits

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    Torpedos and U-1105

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The buoy in the Potomac where the U-1105 was sunk can't be seen from Piney Point, and is hard to find out in the river (see photo 5 for how hard it is to see). In the Museum is the exhibit on this German submarine, the Black Panther. It was a revolutionary feature in military weaponry because it was covered with a synthetic rubber coating making it “invisible” to the sonar of the day and creating one of the first stealth weapons. See photo 2

    The U-1105 Black Panther patroled off the shore of Scotland. When the war was over, it was ordered to an Allied base in northern Scotland where it surrendered. The British later turned the submarine over to the United States Navy for study and experimentation in the U.S.

    After preliminary testing the U-1105 was fatally damaged on September 19, 1949 and was sunk in 90 feet of water in the Potomac River at Piney Point by a Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.

    In June of 1985, the U-1105 was 'rediscovered' by a team of sports divers from Virginia, and after some archeological exploration, the U-1105 was designated as Maryland’s first Historic Shipwreck Dive Preserve and a National Historic Landmark. There are recreational diving opportunities for experienced divers. The U-1105 is a United States Naval ship and is protected by federal law.

    The sign in the photo 2 says "Torpedo Testing in the Potomac River"

    Buoy in 2000 Torpedo Testing Exhibit Buoy in 2008 Chart of Piney Point Telephoto lens with the buoy in 2008
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    • Archeology
    • Diving and Snorkeling
    • Historical Travel

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    Lighthouse Keeper's House

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Lighthouse Keeper's house was built at the same time as the lighthouse (by the same builder) in 1836. Originally it was a one story building with a central fireplace and a ground level basement. The building has been greatly modified through the years. In 1884, a full second story and the porches were added, and new windows were installed.

    The Keeper’s Quarters are now a private residence for security and grounds keeping purposes, but during the annual open house in 2005, the house was vacant (and empty) so we could tour it. I took some pictures of the interior (photo 2 and 3), but did not go down into the cellar (photo 4 of the stairs down)

    Lighthouse Keepers

    * 1836 Philip Clark
    * 1840 Henry C. Heard
    * 1845 Charlotte Suter
    * 1846 William B. Taylor
    * 1849 John N. Nuthall
    * 1850 Martha Nuthall
    * 1861 Robert Marshall
    * 1865 Henry Steinhise
    * 1869 Noah Wilson
    * 1873 Elizabeth Wilson
    * 1877 Helen Tune
    * 1883 Thomas W. Costin
    * 1910 George Costin
    * 1910 William Slacum
    * 1911 Loch Humphries
    * 1910 William Yeatman
    * 1931 William Goeshy

    Keeper's Quarters. Fireplace inside the lighthouse Exposed brick wall A friend coming up the cellar steps Sign about the lighthouse keeper's cottage
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    Potomac River Maritime Exhibit

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    On the grounds of the lighthouse is what is called the Potomac River Maritime Exhibit which houses the collection of four historic wooden vessels including a 67-foot skipjack (Joy Parks), an 84-foot bugeye, (Dorothy A. Parsons), a log canoe, and Potomac River dory boat. In 2005 when we visited, I just took a photo through the entrance door. I don't know if this building is included in with the rest of the lighthouse exhibits or not.

    HOURS OF OPERATION

    The grounds of the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park are open sunrise to sunset 7 days a week.

    The museum, Lighthouse Lens Museum Store, maritime exhibit and lighthouse will open Friday April 13 and offer staffed hours of operation Friday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October.

    Taken through the door in 2005 Exhibit building 2005
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    • Museum Visits
    • Sailing and Boating
    • National/State Park

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    Annual Piney Point Celebration

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Piney Point Lighthouse was built in 1836 by John Donohoo. It is about 14 miles up river from Point Lookout, and it is the oldest light on the Potomac River. Out of 11 lighthouses built on the Potomac, it is one of the four original lights still standing. Several U.S. Presidents, including James Madison, have used Piney Point as a summer retreat.

    The squat white tower is only 35 feet tall, much the same as the other lighthouses that Donohoo built, such as Concord Point and Cove Point. The wall at ground level is four feet thick.

    Just below the lantern floor, the interior is about seven feet in diameter and the walls are 18 inches thick. The original lighting apparatus consisted of 10 lamps with each in its own 15-inch reflector. In June of 1855 this was replaced with a 5th-order Fresnel lens which has since been removed.

    The light was decommissioned in 1964 and in 1980 the Coast Guard transferred ownership to the Saint Mary’s County Department of Recreation and Parks. The grounds were flooded during 2 hurricanes in the late 1990's, and again by Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

    The restored tower steps allow visitors a bird's-eye view of the area during the Annual Piney Point Celebration held in May. I've never climbed the tower.

    There is a small museum and gift shop run by the Friends of Piney Point to help support the ongoing restoration work. The museum, Lighthouse Lens Museum Store, maritime exhibit and lighthouse will open Friday April 13 and offer staffed hours of operation Friday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October. Special opening in December for the holiday season. Please call for dates and times. Admission: $3 adults, $1.50 Children 6 - 18, Free Children 5 and under

    Lighthouse and Keeper's Cottage Lighthouse from inside the keeper's cottage Lighthouse from the river - barely visible Sign about lighthouse types Lighthouse and keeper's cottage
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    • Sailing and Boating
    • Architecture

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