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Deepwater Point Range, NJ  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Deepwater Point Range Lighthouse

1872 – Light-houses at Cross Ledge Shoal, Ship John Shoal, and Bulk-head Shoal, Delaware Bay and River.—During the last session of Congress a petition was received for lights at Ship John Shoal and Bulk-head Shoal, in the river Delaware, of which the following is a copy:
PHILADELPHIA, January, 1872. To the Hon. GEORGE S. BOUTWELL,
Secretary of the Treasury: The aids to navigation in the Delaware River and Bay, which have long been insufficient, are now, when steamships are to a great extent superseding sail-vessels, altogether inadequate to the requirements there. These ships run at all seasons of the year, and at all hours, by night as well as by day, and the buoys which mark the shoals and serve, when they can be seen, as guides to the mariner in keeping the channel, are useless in dark nights always, and in winter they are deceptive and dangerous; for at that season the drift-ice which covers these waters changes the location of some of these buoys and sweeps others entirely away. Experienced mariners, conversant with the navigation here, are, therefore, clearly of opinion that permanent lighthouses are the most efficient guides to navigation in the long and intricate channels of the Delaware, and the only ones that are available at all times and all seasons of the year. The last annual report of the Light-House Board (pages 27 and 28) recognizes this fact by its recommendation of a light-house in place of the light-ship on the Cross Ledge, which is often displaced by drifting ice, and also recommends the erection of a light-house on Tinicum Island, above Chester. These recommendations, if carried into effect, will be great and permanent benefits to the commerce of this port; but there is also urgent need of light-houses at other points, viz, at the Ship John Shoals, at Reedy Point, and at the upper end of the Bulk-head Shoals.
The undersigned corporations and citizens of Philadelphia, interested in its commerce, respectfully ask your attention to the foregoing statements, and earnestly request you to institute such measures as will supply the requisite aids to the navigation of our river and bay as herein set forth.
JOEL PARKER, Governor of New Jersey.
JAMES PONDER, Governor of Delaware, and others.
The question as to the necessity of these lights, and their cost, was submitted to the district officers, and in their replies it was stated that there was great necessity for the lights at the points named, and more so now than formerly, on account of the greater number of steamers navigating the river and bay at all hours of night and day; and when there is floating ice, the buoys being either cut off or drifted from proper positions, and during darkness invisible, the soundings cannot be taken, the lead frequently lighting on the cakes of ice, while the vessel in motion is liable to run on shore before getting another cast of the lead; whereas, were lights in their positions they could steer their courses.
The necessity for a light on Ship John Shoals is to guide vessels up the channel and prevent them from getting ashore on Ship John Shoals and the one opposite, the tide being such as to drift them at times on either shoal. This drifting is frequently experienced in this part of the channel.
On the north end of Bulk-head Shoals, a light is necessary to further show the channels past Bulk-head Shoals, and in order that vessels may shape their course past Deep-Water Point.
In view of the fact that neither the light-house at Ship John Shoals nor Bulk-head Shoals can be constructed in a single fiscal year, and the impossibility of leaving either structure in an unfinished condition over winter without a probability of the loss of the whole of it by the ice, making it necessary to use one entire season, including spring, summer, and fall, (parts of two fiscal years,) for its erection at the site, after the preparation of the material during the previous season, it is earnestly recommended that the appropriation for Ship John Shoals and Bulkhead Shoals, if Congress should deem it proper to make them, in view of the facts presented in the accompanying reports, shall be available during two entire fiscal years.
It was further stated that the cost of each light-house would be $125,000. The want of a light-house at Cross Ledge Shoals, in Delaware Bay, is very great, for the reasons, 1st, that the light-ship now stationed there is often driven from her moorings by fields of ice, endangering her own safety and (by absence from her station) the safety of commerce. 2d. The erection of a light-house to take the place of the light-ship, would save the very considerable expense of her crew, and the repairs which from year to year are necessary, and involve much expense. The policy of the board is to replace, in all cases where it is possible, our light-ships by light-houses on the shoals which the former are intended to mark, being more certain in their service and involving much less expense for maintenance. The board recommends appropriations for the erection of lights at Cross Ledge, Ship John, and Bulk-head Shoals, the estimated cost of which is $125,000 each.

1873 – Bulkhead Shoal, Delaware River.—An appropriation of $50,000 was made at the last session of Congress for commencing a lighthouse at this shoal. A survey of the site is now in progress.

1874 – Bulkhead Shoal light station.—An appropriation of $25,000 was made at the last session of Congress for range-lights to guide past Bulk head Shoal, and the previous appropriation of $50,000 for a light on Bulkhead Shoal made available for the same purpose. A survey has been made, and the location of the range-lights fixed. The necessary steps to secure title to the site and cession of jurisdiction have been taken.

1875 – Bulkhead Shoal ranges, Delaware Bay.—At the date of the last annual report a survey had been made, and the location of the range lights fixed; the necessary steps to secure title and cession of jurisdiction had been commenced. It was found, however, impossible to purchase the sites selected for these ranges at reasonable rates. Proceedings were therefore commenced in the superior court of Newcastle County, Delaware, to have the land condemned under the State laws, but the awards of the jury, in the several cases, were considered by the board as exorbitant, being largely in excess of the prices at which they had previously been offered by their owners, and were rejected, and orders were given to examine into the practicability of locating the lights at other points. It was ascertained that one of the ranges could be placed on the New Jersey shore, and negotiations were commenced for the purchase of sites. The ranges will now be located, one on the Delaware side, and the other on the New Jersey side of the river. Plans have been prepared, and as soon as the titles to the sites are secured, and cession of jurisdiction obtained, work will be prosecuted without delay. An appropriation of $8,000 for a light-house on or near the south end of Pea Patch Island was made by act approved March 3,1873. The building of the Bulkhead ranges will render this light unnecessary. It is therefore suggested that the appropriation for Pea Patch Island be made available for expenditure on the Bulkhead ranges if necessary.

1876 – Bulkhead Ranges, Deep- Water Point, New Jersey, and New Castle, Delaware.—Owing to the difficulty of obtaining sites for these ranges, and the exorbitant value placed upon the land required, the construction has been greatly delayed. The sites have now been purchased, the titles approved by the Attorney-General, and all the structures are in progress. It is hoped they will be completed before the close of the season.

1877 – Bulkhead Ranges, Deepwater Point, New Jersey, and New Castle, Delaware.—These ranges were lighted on the night of November 15, 1876. They mark the channel of the Delaware, where it passes Bulkhead Shoal, and it makes what has heretofore been one of the most difficult parts of the river easy of navigation. Both the lights of the Deepwater Point group are on an extensive area of reclaimed marsh, and are liable to overflow should any breach occur in the long bank, built at private expense, by which it is protected. Both sites should be protected by interior banks to keep them from overflow, should such a breach occur. The unexpended balance of the appropriation it is thought will be sufficient for this purpose, and it is proposed to have the banks built during the present season.

1878 – Deepwater Point range-beacon (front), near New Castle, Delaware.— A fence has been put up to inclose this site. The canal bank along the site on the front has been repaired and faced with stone, 1,315 tons of which have been deposited along the bank to prevent further wash. An earth bank has been put up along the rear line of the site, with the necessary bridges and sluices, and a boat-house built.

1878 – Deepwater Point range-beacon (rear), near New Castle, Delaware.— An earth embankment, with the necessary sluices, ditches, and bridges, has been put up, inclosing the buildings and part of the site, and a small storehouse for fuel, &c, erected, and a small stove and fixtures placed in the watch-room.

1879 – Deep Water Point Range-beacon (front), near New Castle, Delaware. —The front of the roof was painted red to make it a more conspicuous day-mark. Some repairs were made to the building. The river bank in front of the station was protected with stone.

1880 – Deep Water Point Range-beacon (rear), Delaware River, New Jersey.—Slight repairs were made to the iron lantern door.

1882 – Deep-Wat?? Point Range-beacon (front), Delaware River, New Jersey.—A wooden screen painted white, with open spaces so as to show horizontal stripes, was placed over the top of the lantern, to make the structure more conspicuous and to make it more efficient as a day-mark. Extensive repairs should be made for protecting the bank along the canal. This is made necessary by the abrasion which is going on quite rapidly. Sheet piling, cut off at the level of low water, is the cheapest and best protection that can be made. The bank at the rear of the station should be repaired.

1883 – Deep-Water Point Range-Beacon, (front,) Delaware River, New Jersey.—The boundaries of the site were marked with stone monuments; the outside of the lantern was painted red, to make the structure more conspicuous as a day-mark; some 275 cubic yards of banking-stone were placed for the protection of the site; a railway for hauling the sail-boat into the boat-house was built, and various minor repairs were made.

1883 – Deep-Water Point Range-Beacon, (rear,) Delaware River, New Jersey.—The boundaries of the site were marked with stone monuments. The iron tower was painted with coal-tar outside, and various minor repairs were made.

1885 -286. Deep Water Point range beacon (front), on the east side of Delaware River, New Jersey.—A 4-inch iron pipe was driven 50 feet, a pump was attached and a good supply of water was obtained. The banks, which were too low and narrow and without proper footing, were raised and strengthened, and were provided with new sluices and put in good order throughout.

1888 – Deep-Water Point range-beacon (front), Delaware River, below Deep- Water Point, New Jersey.—The river banks and their protecting jetties were repaired and strengthened, new plank walks were laid to the oil-house, and a new platform was built around the pump.

1891 – Deep Water Point Range (rear), below Deep-Water Point, Delaware River, New Jersey.—The frame barn was rebuilt and various repairs were made.

1894 – Deep- Water Point range, rear, below Deep-Water Point, Delaware River, New Jersey.—The banks were rebuilt and various repairs were made.

1895 – Deep Water Point range (front), Delaware River, New Jersey.— The characteristic of this light was changed at the end of October, 1894, from fixed white to fixed white during periods of 2 seconds, separated by eclipses of 1 second's duration. A survey was made of the right of way to the station, and it was found that it had become impassable and useless.

1896 – Deep Water Point Range (front), Delaware River, New Jersey.— The old riprap protection of the south bank was replaced by a dry rubble sea wall. About 600 feet of the boundary fence was rebuilt. The small boathouse and its ways were repaired.

1896 – Deep Water Point Range (rear), Delaware River, New Jersey.— The entrance road was surfaced with oyster shells, the barn was raised, and its approaches were put in order.

1897 – Deep Water Point Range (front), Delaware River, New Jersey.— The dwelling, including its small tower, was thoroughly repaired. A kitchen addition was built. The old shed was utilized as a temporary barn. A tank, and a drive well, force pump, and hose were added. Brick walks were relaid and extended. A temporary right of way to the main road was secured until a permanent right of way can be obtained.

1898 – Deep Water Point Range (front), Delaware River, New Jersey.— About 200 cubic yards of stone was purchased and the sea wall was extended about 110 feet along the canal side of the reservation. Minor repairs were made.

1899 – Deep Water Point range (front), Delaware River, New Jersey.— Some 110 running feet of stone sea wall were constructed. Designs and specifications were prepared and the barn rebuilt. Contract was made for grading and shelling the road, and the work practically completed. Various repairs were made.

1899 – Deep Water Point range (rear), Delaware River, New Jersey.— Designs and specifications were prepared, a contract made, and the work of erecting a kitchen addition and making repairs to the dwelling begun. A topographical survey of the station was made. Various repairs were made.

1900 – Deep Water Point range (front), Delaware River, New Jersey.—The picket fence around the light-house was completed, and another, about 150 feet long, was built to inclose a yard in the rear of the barn. Various minor repairs were made.

1900 – Deep Water Point range (rear), Delaware River, New Jersey — The kitchen addition to the dwelling was completed, a side veranda with a walk extending to the tower was built. Various repairs were made.

1901 – Deep Water Point range (front), Delaware River; New Jersey.— The front of the lantern was painted a solid black, the remainder of the front of the light-house a solid white, and the barn, boathouse, and oil house a light brown. A new lease was made for the right of way leading to the station. Minor repairs were made.

1901 – Deep Water Point range (rear), Delaware River, New Jersey.— The station was repainted black, and two slatted frames added, one on each side, just underneath the lantern. The plotting of the station map was completed. Minor repairs were made.

1902 – Deep Water Point Rear. Delaware River, New Jersey.—Brick walks were laid from the entrance of the dwelling to the drive and oil house. Part of the shell road was rebuilt and a revetment for its protection was made at the entrance to the site, where it was being washed away. A fence was built along the east side of the barn. Some ornamental plants were furnished. Various repairs were made.

1905 – Deep Water Point, front, Delaware River, New Jersey.—The boat landing was rebuilt, and minor repairs were made.

1909 – Isolated fireproof oil houses were constructed under the appropriation “Oil houses for light-stations” at the following-named stations: Deep Water Point range front, N. J., Deep Water Point range rear, N. J.

1913 – William Spear, keeper, Launch Avon driven ashore and disabled. Towed her to Wilmington, Del. Party on board consisted of 2 men, 2 children, and woman with baby.

1913 – William Spear, keeper front light, towed disabled motor boat Monacy, of Chester, PA,to port; 5 men aboard; repaired engine for them..

1913 – William Spear, keeper front light, Towed disabled motor boat Jennie of Bristol, PA to port; 2 men and 2 women aboard; examined engine and located trouble for them.

1914 – Keeper William Spear awarded efficiency pennant for 1914.

1914 - W. Spear, keeper, recovered body of boy drowned near station. Happened on June 26.

1916 – M.A. Duffield, keeper Deepwater Point Range Rear, gave shelter, quilts, and blankets to employees of Du Pont Powder Works, burned in an explosion.

1916 – W. Spear, keeper, Deepwater Point Range Front, transported boy with fractured arm to hospital at Wilmington, Del., for treatment.

1916 – W. Spear, keeper, Deepwater Point Range Front, towed disabled motor launch Montie, of Camden, N.J., in heavy squall, containing 4 persons, into Salem Channel.

1930 – William Spear, keeper, Deepwater Point Range Front Light Station, N. J., rescued 3 men, 1 boy, 2 women , and 2 small children form the disabled motor boat America, on May 31. The motor boat went aground at the mouth of the Salem Canal, but was gotten off and towed into the canal by the keeper.

1952 – Deepwater Range Lights discontinued after Delaware River Memorial Bridge was finished. Replacement range lights were built in the river, south of the bridge.

1956 – Deepwater Range Lights destroyed.


  • Front: Enoch Brooks (1876 – 1885), George Shropshire (1885 – 1895), Daniel B. Ferguson (1895 – 1908), Anna Ferguson (1908), Walter Steller (1908), William F. Spear (1908 – 1939), Ferdinand Heizman (1939 – at least 1950).
  • Rear: William D. Torton (1876 – at least 1915), Milton A. Duffield (at least 1916), Frank B. James (at least 1917), Edward W. Long (at least 1919 – at least 1921), Samuel Cook (at least 1930).

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