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As we sail up the Patapsco, we pass Fort Carroll. This man made island of 3.5 acres was started after the War of 1812, because it was felt that Fort McHenry was too close to the city for adequate defense. Robert E. Lee, who also was responsible for constructing Fort Wool in Hampton Roads, was the first construction engineer. After Lee left to be superintendant of West Point, construction [was] hampered by lack of funding and the difficulty of building such a heavy structure on soft sand. On October 8, 1850 the fort was officially named after Charles Carroll (1737-1832), a Maryland political leader and the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1854 a lighthouse was built on the ramparts to mark the turn from the Brewerton Channel to the Fort McHenry Channel leading in and out of Baltimore Harbor.
The Fort was not yet completed in 1861, but was armed, and was also manned during the Spanish American War in 1898. Also in 1898 a new lighthouse (still seen today) was built, and it was automated in 1920 and then discontinued sometime between 1931 and 1945.
The Army abandoned the fort in 1920 and moved all the equipment to Fort Howard which is now a VA Hospital, which we also see when we sail up the Patapsco.
The Coast Guard used the fort during World War II. Someone bought the island intending to make a casino out of it, but unfortunately the island lies in Baltimore County instead of Anne Arundel County (on the south side of the river) where a casino would have been legal.
The island is now a nesting place for many birds such as gulls and cormorants. herons (including the black crowned night heron) and egrets, and has become a defacto wildlife sanctuary. Hundreds of nests cover the island: the island has become home to a world-class rookery, the most diverse colony of species within 100 miles. The problem lies in the trees where the birds nest which may be threatening Fort Carroll's structural integrity. The quandary has been whether to save the fort or keep the birds.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Originally I confused the name of this lighthouse - I thought it could not POSSIBLY be Bald HEAD - it must be Bald Hill. But it really is called Bald Head. It looks to me like it has leoprosy or is has been designed by some overenthusiastic camo painter.
The first lighthouse was built here in 1796. The current lighthouse "Old Baldy," was build 110 feet tall in 1818 about a mile from the ocean. The light is not centered on the top. It was never effective at warning ships away from Frying Pan Shoals at the entrance of the Cape Fear River. It is the oldest standing lighthouse on the NC coast.
Confederate forces disabled it in January, 1865, prior to losing control of the Cape Fear River in the battle at Fort Fisher. In the early 1900s, the Bald Head light was downgraded to a low-intensity, steady light, and was finally discontinued in 1935. From 1941 to 1958, Old Baldy produced a radio beacon to direct ships into the Cape Fear River Channel in times of fog and bad weather. Today, it emits a long steady beam as a restored historical site on Bald Head Island.
It is a thirty-minute ferry ride from ndigo Marina at Southport to Bald Head Island. Cars are not allowed, but golf carts can be rented on the island or it is a short walk to the lighthouse. It is open to the public.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Phone: (800) 234-1666
Smith Point Light is located on the southern side of Virginia, to mark where the Potomac River enters the Chesapeake Bay. We go past this light every time we go south along the Chesapeake. If there is a west wind sweeping down the Potomac, the water here and at Point Lookout can be quite rough where the long fetch waves meet the waves of the Bay.
The lighthouse standing today is the fifth structure to be built around this area because there was great difficulty in keeping any kind of structure here. According to Keep the Lights Shining the first light was built in 1802 but had to be moved in 1807. It was replaced by a lightship in 1857.
A screwpile lighthouse was built in 1868 to replace the lightship, but ice that plaqued the area in the winter months destroyed the structure on February 14, 1895. The ice ripped the structure from it's piles and it floated down the Chesapeake Bay. The lens and fogbell were recovered and later used in the caisson style light present today
..The two-story 52-foot caisson style structure was put into service in August 1897. The light from the tower can be seen up to twenty-two miles away. The tower was painted white, and is very similiar in design to it's neighboring red brick Wolf Trap Light.
Smith Point Light was automated in 1971. In 1991, the United States Coast Guard did a major restoration of the lighthouse inside and out.
This lighthouse is best viewed from a boat, but it can be seen in the distance from some shore points.
It is an active Aid to Navigation (ATON) and is not open to the public.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Hooper Light is over by the Eastern Shore between Smith Point and Cove Point. Sometimes people confuse it with Baltimore Light but this light is more slender in profile. This is one of my first lighthouse pictures
One of only 4 Bay lighthouses built in the 20th century, Hooper Island light is one of only 11 lighthouses built in the U.S. where the caisson was sunk using a pneumatic process.
Like the earlier caissons, it was filled with cement and sunk into place. However, an air shaft was installed through the concrete, leading to a working chamber at the bottom. This allowed men to work within the caisson excavating the site’s sand bottom through the aid of an air pump. (The caisson workers were sometimes referred to as “sand hogs”.)
Of the eleven pneumatic caisson lighthouses built in the United States, seven were built in the Chesapeake Bay; three were built in the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay (Wolf Trap Lighthouse, 1894, Smith Point Lighthouse, 1897, and Thimble Shoal Lighthouse, 1914); and four in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay (Solomons Lump Lighthouse, 1895, Hooper Island Lighthouse, 1902, Point No Point Lighthouse, 1905, and Baltimore Lighthouse, 1908). Hooper Island Lighthouse is the only cast-iron caisson lighthouse in Maryland with a watch room and lantern surmounted on the tower.
In 1961 the light was fully automated. In the mid 1970s the valuable Fresnel lens was stolen. The shape and color of the structure have earned it the nickname of "the spark plug". It is still an active navigational aid.
In 1999, we were beating into a south wind, with waves crashing over the bow - square waves like you get in the Chesapeake. Not making much progress. Opposite us was the target used by the US Navy near Point No Point. The range ship, whose job it is to see that clueless civilians don't get into the target area finally called us on the radio and asked "Sailboat over by Hooper - Are you going north or south?" How humiliating.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Gasparilla Island light was one of three lighthouses built (and lit in first lit on December 31, 1890) to assist cattle ships going from ports in Charlotte Harbor to Cuba. Later it guided phosphate ships from nearby railroad docks that were built in 1909.
The lighthouse is a one -story dwelling on piles with green shutters, and a shingled roof with a black lantern on top. The light was a 3.5 order Fresnel lens that showed a fixed white light plus red flashes every 20 seconds. It served as a rear range light for vessels entering the harbor.
In an early evening of April 1940, a fire broke out in the washroom (a small building separate from the lighthouse). There was no water pressure to fight the fire. Fortunately, men from the nearby railroad came to help. A bucket brigade kept the fire from spreading until a 1,000 foot-long fire hose could be assembled from the railroad docks.
Peak shipping activity occured during World War II when over 30 ships called at the phosphate docks each month. The lighthouse continued in operation until in 1956, it was automated and unmanned. In the mid-1960's shoreline erosion threatened the site. The Coast Guard discontinued the light in the lighthouse in 1968 and established a new light (Port Boca Grande Light) on a 58-foot tall steel skeleton tower further inland. To distinguish it from the lighthouse, the new structure was called Port Boca Grande Light.
The lighthouse reached its worst state of disrepair in 1972. In 1980, the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. With erosion now threatening the skeleton tower, the Coast Guard and the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association reached agreement to sought permission to re-establish the light to the tower. In March 1999, the Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum opened in the lighthouse building. The lighthouse retained its later name of Port Boca Grande Ligh
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Point Lookout is a lighthouse on top of a regular house. It is on the northern (Maryland) shore of the Potomac River. Just like Smith Point in Virginia, the waters are often rough around Point Lookout. The first time we came around this point, windsurfers were having a marvelous time in the boistrous weather.
The 2nd picture was taken on the 4th of July 2000 when we took our grandson, SIL and daughter out for a picnic and anchored for lunch. Since then (in 2002), the lighthouse has been painted. The main picture was taken in July 2005. It is in the process of being listed in the National Historic Register. The lighthouse is said to be haunted.
The Point Lookout lighthouse is in or near Point Lookout State Park, which is the site of a notorious Civil War Prison where many southerners were held after capture. There is also a lake, with a channel from the river, and beaches and various other recreational activities available. The most visible items from the water are the various antennae and other structures.
The lighthouse, which was built in 1830 was sold to the Navy in 1965 and the interior of the lighthouse was dismantled. The lighthouse is not a part of the State Park, and normally is off limits. It can only be toured when all the lighthouses on the Bay are open to the public on a lighthouse tour.
The sign on the fence says:
Chesapeake Test Range
Naval Air Test Center
Patuxent River, Maryland
In 2004, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer got the funds relocate the Theodolite Tracking System from Point Lookout to a safer, more secure location so that the lighthouse can become part of the State Park and eventually be opened again to the public.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Bodie (pronounced Body) Island is a part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The 150 ft light 4 miles N of Oregon Inlet, has two black and three white horizontal bands. It is an active lighthouse which is equipped with the original first-order Fresnel lens (Lens is a separate property from the tower). The 160,000 candlepower beacon flashes 19 miles over the ocean in the on for 2.5 seconds and then off for 2.5 seconds.
Originally built on Pea Island in 1847, and rebuilt with improvements in 1859, the 80 foot tower was blown up in 1862 by Confederate troops to prevent its use by the Union forces.
On October 1, 1872, the present tower was put into operation and is the third lighthouse built here. According to a lightkeeper on duty at the time, shortly after this light was activated, a flock of wild geese flew into the lantern, causing severe damage to the lens. It was quickly repaired, and a wire screen was placed around the light to prevent further mishap. It was also necessary to put a lightening rod on the tower.
The light was electrified in 1932. Finally, all of the light station’s property except the tower itself were transferred to the National Park Service in 1953. Still a functioning U.S. Coast Guard navigational aid, the tower is closed to the public.
Since this lighthouse isn't open to be climbed, so I don't have to feel guilty about not climbing it. It is all surrounded with that orange plastic web fencing at ground level - apparently because pieces sometimes fall off of it.
The lighthouse keeper cottage is now a museum, and there are accessible restrooms, a visitor center, walking paths, and a bookstore. The lighthouse raters give this lighthouse a platinum rating as among the best lighthouses to visit.
Open All Year 9am - 6pm in summer, 9am - 5 pm rest of year
5/31/04 - 9/6/04 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
9/7/04 - 5/29/05 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Directions: 8 miles S of the US 158 and US 64 intersection, W of NC 12. The entrance on the right will sneak up on you quickly, so be on the lookout for it.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse is a beautiful red screw pile lighthouse which was at the end of Bodkin Creek, near the Patapsco River. It was the second one built on the Chesapeake. Screw pile lighthouses are suspended above the water by a system of cast-iron pilings with cork-screw-like bases which are screwed into the soft mud of the sea floor.
Seven Foot Knoll was constructed with nine cast-iron screw piles supporting a gallery deck some nine feet above mean high water. It is the oldest surviving one in Maryland and was moved to the inner harbor of Baltimore in 1989. The house is unusual in that in addition to being red, it is round.
My husband's (and now my BIL's) home was on Bodkin Creek and they remember this lighthouse when it was active when the waves from wakes and wind would sometimes be 7 to 15 feet or more tall. The shoal is still there, but it is now marked only by a simple post .
The Seven Foot Knoll light is included in the Maritime Museum which also includes the TORSK and CONSTELLATION. Tickets are on sale near the Constellation. The Lighthouse Society does not rank this lighthouse in the top 50 lighthouses for visits.
Children under 5 years - Free
Children 6-14 years - $3.00
Adults - $6.00
Seniors - $5.00
Friday - Sunday: 10:30am - 5:00pm
Spring hours start in March
Sunday - Thursday: 10:00am - 5:30pm
Friday - Saturday: 10:00am - 6:30pm
Ticket Booth closes 1/2 hour earlier than ships
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Cove Point is still an active lighthouse in Lusby near Calvert Cliffs at the narrowest part of the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to Calvert Cliffs, where there is a state park and fossiling possibilities, you can see a nuclear power plant from the bay at this point and the LNG platform to the north (on the right of the photograph). The two insets are different views of the lighthouse as we sailed past in one of my first attempts at digital photography.
The Cove Point, MD Lighthouse was built in 1828 and still retains the original caisson with octagonal brick dwelling / light tower. It is 51 feet tall and was build by John Donohoo, the same person who built the Concord Point light (which is an earlier light, which I have not yet seen). It cost less to build than Congress budgeted for it.
Originally 11 lamps were used, each with a 18" reflector. These were replaced in 1855 with a fifth order Fresnel lens, then again in 1899 with a fourth order lens. While the light is now electrified, the old winding mechanism and counterweights are still in working order. Like other land based lights on the Bay, the keepers dwelling began as a simple single story home and was later enlarged (1883) by the addition of a second story. Several fog bell towers have also graced the site over the years.
The lighthouse was deeded to the Calvert Maritime Museum in 2000 and there are shuttle buses twice a day on weekends and Holidays, May and September, and daily June, July and August. The lighthouse is closed October through May.
Admission is free with payment of admission to the Museum (normal adult admission is $7.00) . Cove Pt. Access is only available by shuttle bus from the Museum in Solomons. You can NOT drive directly to the lighthouse.
WARNING: If there are not enough volunteers working at the museum, the the shuttle bus does not run, regardless of the schedule. I still have not visited this lighthouse by land.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Drum Point offers the opportunity to actually climb through the lighthouse's lower hatch to enter the lighthouse, as the light keepers did a century ago. This really brings a unique perspective that you will not get any other screwpile lighthouse.
Each room in the lighthouse has been painstakingly re-created under the direction of Anna Weems Walt who was born and resided in the lighthouse. The furniture was based on her memory and she even donated some family china to top off her efforts. These factors give the lighthouse a gold rating.
Drum Point Light was originally out in the Bay at Drum Point. It is a screwpile, cottage-type light. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were forty-five of these screwpile lighthouses that served the Chesapeake Bay because they were less expensive to build than other types of lighthouses.
The only one that remains in service is Thomas Point. Three (Drum Point, Hooper Straits and Seven Foot Knoll) are part of land museum exhibits.
See the Solomons narrative for additional photos
Calvert Marine Museum is located on State Route 2 in Solomons, Calvert County, Southern Maryland, twenty miles south of Prince Frederick
HOURS & FEES:
The Drum Point Lighthouse is open year round, weather permitting, except for when the museum is closed on certain holidays. Your admission fee for the museum also allows you to tour the lighthouse. Check out the Calendar of Events to see when you can meet the light keeper. The lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Phone: (410)326-2042 ext. 14 (library)
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