Home Maps Resources Calendar About
Resources Calendar About
Christiana, DE  Lighthouse destroyed.   

Select a photograph to view a photo gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

See our full List of Lighthouses in Delaware

Christiana Lighthouse

1834 – Authorized by act of Congress, June 30, 1834, $6,000. To enable the Secretary of the Treasury to provide, by contract, for building a light-house at the mouth of Christiana River, in the State of Delaware.

1838 – Christiana light-house.—Light on keeper's dwelling; burns ten lamps with spherical reflectors ; light clean, and in good order; the walls of the house crooked ; oil freezes in winter.

1844 – Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, communicating (in compliance with a resolution of the Senate) the result of an experiment to ascertain the expediency of using gas, instead of oil, in the Light-house Establishment.
MAY 24, 1844.—Read, and referred to the Committee on Commerce. MAY 28, 1844.— Discharged. MARCH 3, 1845.—Ordered to be printed.
SIR: In obedience to a resolution of the Senate, dated the 18th instant, instructing the Secretary of the Treasury to communicate "the result of an experiment made at the Christiana light-house, for the purpose of ascertaining the expediency of using gas, instead of oil, in the Lighthouse Establishment, stating the relative cost of the same, and the opinion of the Department on the subject," I have the honor to transmit copies of letters from B. F. Coston and Captain Henry Prince, jr., showing the results of the experiments referred to in the resolution.
A copy of a letter from S. Pleasonton, Esq., together with copies of certain papers therewith transmitted, showing the measures taken more fully to ascertain, by further trial, the relative cost of gas as compared with oil, and the opinions of experienced men on that and other points connected with the general use of gas as a substitute for oil, are also enclosed.
The conflicting views presented in the papers thus enclosed suggest caution in the expression of any definite opinion. Thus far, the experiment has certainly been encouraging; but until the results of the further use of gas, in the experiments now in progress, are known, the Department can form no satisfactory conclusion.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
McCLINTOCK YOUNG, Secretary of the Treasury, ad interim.
Hon. W. P. MANGUM,
President of the Senate.

1844 – WILMINGTON, May 16. 1844.
SIR: In compliance with the instructions of the Secretary of the Treasury, contained in his letter of the 10th of November, 1843, in reference to the light-house at Christiana creek, I have the honor to inform you that I have completed the work, and to my entire satisfaction. The light-house is now lighted by gas, and is in successful operation.
I beg leave to refer you to the report of Captain H. Prince of the revenue marine, a copy of which is hereto annexed, in furtherance of the orders of the Treasury Department of the 25th of April last, where, somewhat in detail, the principles of my experiment and the extent of my success are explained.
The result of this experiment has enabled me to establish the following comparison:
The most accurate computation of the cost of lighting the light-houses with oil, agreeably to the plan now in general use, is at an average of one dollar per night for every ten lamps. The cost of gas light, agreeably to my plan, is twenty cents per night, and the amount of light given is three times as great as from oil, each gas burner being equal to three of the best light-house lamps.
I beg leave here to remark, that this practical test of my theory of lighting light-houses has more than confirmed all my anticipations, and has met with the undivided approval of all who have seen and examined this light. The want of elevation in the Christiana light-house, being only 47 feet from the surface of the water to the light, and the insular locality of the site, not having in any one direction a sufficient continuous range of vision to show the light to the fullest extent of its beneficial results, deprive this experiment of some of its advantages.
To give to this experiment a more enlarged and thorough test, I should be particularly gratified to have the experiment tried upon the unoccupied tower on the Highland of Navesink, where a comparison could be made with the French lenses now used there and the gas light upon ray plan of construction. This could be done at a cost to the Government of about one thousand dollars; and, from the advantages of the great elevation of the light, the uninterrupted range out at sea to an indefinite extent, and on that great commercial highway, a full, thorough, and unembarrassed test could be made, that would involve the relative cost of construction, quality, quantity, and expense of the light, and everything necessary to institute a comparison of the present system of lighting light-houses with the plan that I propose.
I therefore most respectfully ask to be employed in carrying out this experiment.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Secretary, ad interim.

In obedience to the order of the Hon. John C. Spencer, Secretary of the Treasury, the subjoined report of the examination of the light-house on Christiana creek, Delaware, under the superintendence of the Hon. Arnold Naudain, collector for the port and district of Wilmington, is respectfully submitted for the consideration of the Department:
Height of the lantern above the surface of the river, forty-seven feet; diameter of the lantern, six feet; height from the deck, six feet; form, octagon, with fifteen panes of glass on each side. It contains ten gas burners and ten reflectors of fifteen inches in diameter, and ten feet of half-inch iron pipe, for the arms of the burners.
Diameter of the gasometer, ten feet; depth of the gasometer, ten feet— of iron, weighing fourteen hundred and fifty pounds, and contains seven hundred and fifty cubic feet of gas. The cistern, of wood, ten feet and six inches in diameter, and eleven feet in height. The retort is three feet six inches long, one foot six inches wide, and eight inches deep— and will probably require an annual renewal. The furnace is four feet high and four feet long. The rosin kettle is eighteen inches deep and sixteen inches in diameter. The condenser, of iron, four feet long, one foot high, and one foot wide. Six wrought-iron pipes, three inches in diameter, and ten feet high. Sixteen feet of three-inch pipe, conducting to the gasometer. Sixty-six feet of one-inch pipe, conducting to the lantern. Twenty-seven feet of half-inch pipe, conducting to the rooms of the dwelling. Four pulleys, with thirty feet of chain attached to fifteen hundred pounds weight, to suspend the gasometer. The tar pump, of iron. The tar cistern, of brick, three feet long, two feet wide, and three feet deep. Proof of the pipe, two hundred pounds to the square inch. Pressure of the gas on the pipes, three-quarters of a pound to the square inch.
My own opinion of the using of gas is, that it may be attended with some danger from fire in wooden buildings, but no greater than that created by the fires used for warmth or culinary purposes. In buildings constructed with brick, stone, or iron, there cannot exist any danger whatever.
About one pound of anthracite coal per hour, at a cost of one-fourth of a cent. The same weight of coke per hour, at a cost of one-fifth of a cent. About two and a half pounds of rosin per hour, at a cost of two-fifths of a cent.

1855 - Since July 1,1854, lenses have been introduced into this district, as follows: At Christiana, a fourth-order of 300°, in place of twelve lamps and reflectors.

1855 – At Bombay Hook and Christiana, new iron lanterns for fourth-order apparatus, and at Cohansey and Mahon's river new iron lanterns for fifth-order, have been substituted for the old and defective style hitherto in use. These were furnished with very wide vertical astragals and inferior glasses, 9 inches by 12. The new ones have diagonal astragals, and superior French plate glass of very large dimensions. In placing these lanterns the towers have been necessarily remodelled, and in great part renewed.

1867 – Christiana.—The new brick cistern has been finished; the brick oil-house repaired, the ditches cleaned out; a new out-house built, and the earth bank enclosing the station and the sluice have been repaired.

1868 – Christiana,—The cement of the water cistern having been loosened by frost, has been renewed. The building requires painting.

1869 – Christiana, Delaware.—The plastering of the ceiling of the kitchen has been repaired; the old gas-house adjoining the keeper's dwelling has been removed; a new slate roof has been put upon the dwelling and kitchen, and the tower covered with slate from the roof of the main building to the lantern deck. New steps to the house, and the platform repaired. A part of the brick-work of the cistern, being defective, has been removed and rebuilt; all the buildings have been painted inside and out. It is recommended that a suitable wharf be built at this station for landing light-house stores, buoys, and their fixtures; anchors, and cables, &c., for light-vessels; and for the preservation and protection of the relief light-vessel. A small storehouse, buoy shed, &c., and for the preservation and protection of the supplies, buoys, &c., of the district. This, it is believed, is the most eligible position in the district for this purpose; and as the land and water front belong to the light-house establishment, it will save the cost of a site elsewhere, and relieve the board from the necessity which now exists of renting a wharf and storehouse near this light station. An estimate will be submitted with the annual estimates for the erection of this wharf, &c.

1870 -204. Christiana, Delaware, mouth of Christiana River, Delaware Bay.— A survey has been made at this station for locating the position of the light-house on Major Bache's map of Christiana River, (1835,) with a, view of occupying the station as a light-vessel and buoy depot, wharves, and storehouse for light house and buoy tenders, light-vessels, &c. A special appropriation was made July 15, 1870, " for building wharves, sheds, and otherwise fitting the Christiana light station as a buoy depot and winter harbor for light-vessels, at the mouth of Christiana River, near Wilmington, Delaware." The plan proposed is to build the upper wharf, and storehouse for rigging, sails, &c.. And to do part of the grading, and, if the amount already appropriated is sufficient, to erect the upper buoy shed also. Plans and estimates are now being prepared. The approximate estimate for continuing the works, (that is, to finish the upper wharf, storehouse, and buoy shed, and that part of the grading,) and to construct the second wharf, buoy shed, and grading, is $14,000.

1871 - 224. Christiana, Delaware, Delaware Bay.—Extensive operations have been going on to fit this station as a buoy depot and winter harbor for light-vessels. The upper wharf has been completed; it is thirty-two feet wide and extends into the Christiana River one hundred and sixty-four feet to eight feet water at ordinary low tide; the piling, grillage, stone piers, and stone-work of the cistern are completed for the first or upper building. The frame and other materials are so far advanced, it is believed, that it will be ready for occupation by the 1st of next September. This building will be fifty by one hundred and forty feet in plan, two stories of eight feet each in height, the first or lower floor divided into one room fifty by sixty-three feet, the balance arranged for storing iron and spar buoys, chains, ballast balls, and sinkers. The second story, fifty by one hundred and forty feet, for storing sails, rigging, small boats, &c. The piles for the foundation of the second building are all driven, the building to be fifty by one hundred and fifty feet in plan, one story of ten feet, to admit first-class iron buoys. The piles for the second wharf are also driven; the wharf is thirty-two feet wide and extends one hundred and forty feet into the river, to eight feet water at ordinary low tide. A new sluice has been placed in the bank for draining the inclosure.

1874 – Christiana light-station.—A platform 50 by 150 feet has been built for buoys. It is placed on the stone piers, which rest on grillage below water on the top of piles. The dock between the wharves has been dredged out to the depth of 6 feet of low water, and the soil deposited inside of the river-bank.

1878 – Christiana, entrance to Christiana River, Delaware River, Delaware.—The dock between the wharves at the buoy depot has been dredged out to a depth of 6 feet at low tide. The two wharves have been repaired and replanked, and a small sluice put in to drain the ditches more effectually. The river bank that was badly washed by the storms and high tides, which, in November last, carried away fences and broke the cross-bank between the adjoining property, has been repaired.

1879 – Christiana, entrance to Christiana River, Delaware River, Delaware. —One of the wharves at this station has been taken up and a new wharf built, thus extending the bulkhead between the wharves from 70 to 200 feet in length; the dock between the wharves has been dredged out to 6 feet in depth at low tide; the wharf-platform for landing buoys, &c, has been extended along the bank between the wharves. The old and dilapidated buoy-platform, 50 by 150 feet, has been rebuilt. The river bank has been raised 20 inches above the old banks and faced with stone on both sides and the top paved where exposed to the wash of the sea. The fence between the adjoining property and the light-house site, and the garden fence, have been rebuilt. A new water-closet and platform, on the front of the dwelling have been put up, and the ditches cleaned out.

1880 – Christiana, mouth of Christiana Creek, Delaware River, Delaware. —A new stable, to replace the one destroyed by the storm of October, 1878, was erected.

1881 – Christiana, month of Christiana River, Wilmington, Delaware.— Repairs were made to the river-bank at this station.

1884 – Christiana gas beacon (new), at the mouth of Christiana Creek, Delaware.—This beacon was lighted on June 20, 1884. It is supplied with compressed gas confined in tanks, and burns continuously for seventy-one days. The light purports to be of twenty-one candle power.

1885 - 288. Christiana Beacon, on the pier at the end of the jetty at the mouth of Christiana Creek, Delaware.—This station is lighted by compressed gas. A high paling fence, painted red to correspond with the beacon was built around its base to prevent trespass. Changes were made in the inner lantern, to prevent shadows from being cast by the astragals; alterations were made to the wheels under the tanks, in order to lower them and facilitate their removal, and an iron stop frame was placed in their rear to prevent lateral motion. A wooden ladder was placed on the side of the pier and a plank walk was built front the shore to the pier.

1887 – Christiana, at mouth of Christiana River, Wilmington, Delaware.— A new frame oil-house was constructed to replace the old and dilapidated brick structure, which was torn down and removed. Some 700 linear feet of new post and rail fence were built; extensive repairs were also made to the banks on both the Christiana and Delaware River fronts, the planking of the old wharf being removed from the latter, and various minor repairs were made

1888 – Christiana beacon, mouth of Christiana Creek, Delaware River, Delaware.—The plank walk to the beacon was renewed and minor repairs were made.

1891 – Christiana, mouth of Christiana River, Delaware.—The cross banks and those on the river front were repaired. The old wooden bridges were removed from over the ditches, and earth banks, built over terra cotta sewer pipes, substituted. A contract was made for extensive alterations and repairs to the dwelling, to make it habitable.

1891 – Christiana Beacon, on pier end of jetty at mouth of Christiana River, Delaware.—Contract was made for extensive repairs to the keeper's dwelling.

1892 – Christiana, mouth of Christiana River, Delaware Bay, Delaware.—The dwelling at this station was overhauled and put in thorough repair. The river banks were put in good order and the site around the house was graded.

1893 – Christiana Beacon, mouth of Christiana River, Delaware.—Owing to settlement and other causes, the pier, at the outer end of the jetty on which the beacon now stands, has become unsafe and renders a new foundation for it necessary. This was begun and is now under construction. Slight repairs, made necessary by a sailing vessel fouling with the beacon, were made.

1894 – Christiana beacon, on pier at the month of Christiana Creek, Delaware River, Delaware.—The new foundation pier was completed and an iron lantern post, with a fixed white lens lantern, was erected. The fourth-order red light was discontinued on January 31, 1894, and its illuminating apparatus and gas tanks were taken out and the frame tower was removed.

1894 – Christiana, at mouth of Christiana Creek, Wilmington, Del.—It is proposed to change the pierhead light, which is now a lens lantern, to a fourth-order light. This will be a decided benefit to the navigation of the Delaware. A fourth-order light would be seen without difficulty at a sufficient distance. It is therefore recommended that the white lens lantern on the pier at the end of the dike be replaced by the fourth-order light now on the dwelling, and it is further recommended that a white post light be established on a tripod in the grounds, or at the side of the dwelling, in place of the fourth-order lens to be removed from the tower on the house. It is estimated that this will cost not to exceed $9,100, and it is recommended that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.

1895 - 406. Christiana, Delaware River, Delaware.—The river banks about the station were rebuilt and made higher. An elevated board walk, about 1,800 feet long, was built to connect the station with the beacon light. Several of the old fences were replaced. A new cistern was built. Various repairs were made.

1895 – Christiana beacon, Delaware River, Delaware.—Measurements were made to determine the amount of settlement of the crib upon which the beacon is erected.

1897 – Christiana beacon, Delaware River, Delaware.—The post of this light, knocked over by passing vessels, was twice repaired.

1897 – Christiana, Delaware River, Delaware.—The dwelling was thoroughly repaired. The north end of the lot was fenced. Leaks in the river dike were repaired. Outbuildings, including the barn, were raised about 4 feet and the land-boundary dikes were raised and strengthened to allow of the complete filling in of the light-house site by dredges now under contract with the War Department for dredging the adjoining river. This filling in will prevent river overflow and the need of the reconstruction of the river dikes.

1898 – Christiana, Delaware River, Delaware.—Nearly the entire surface of the reservation was raised about 4 feet by filling in with dredged material. Drains were laid. A contract was made for grading and seeding the grounds, and the work was begun. About 2,800 bushels of oyster shells were purchased for use in constructing a road.

1899 – Christiana, Delaware River, Delaware.—The work of grading and seeding the grounds was practically completed. The road was graded and surfaced with oyster shells, the old barn placed in a serviceable condition, and division and barnyard fences erected. Various repairs were made.

1901 – Christiana south beacon, Delaware River, Delaware.—Preparations were made for the establishment of a temporary post light on or about July 10, 1901.

1901 – Christiana beacon, Delaware River, Delaware.—On December 29,1900, the lantern post and lamp house were removed to the terminal crib of the new jetty extension. A survey showing the new location of the post was made and a map plotted. A contract was made for the erection of a new fog-signal house and lantern post. A fog-bell striking machine was purchased. Various repairs-were made.

1901 – Christiana, Delaware River, Delaware.—A survey of the boundaries of the reservation was made and a new map of the station compiled. Various repairs were made.

1902 – Christiana South Beacon, Delaware River, Delaware.—A temporary post light was established, and the light was exhibited for the first time on the night of July 10, 1901. Later the iron lantern post was removed from the north jetty, modified and set in a cast-iron pipe base; a concrete platform was built around it, and the light was exhibited from the iron post for the first time on December 16, 1901. Two landing ladders were placed on the sides of the jetty, and a frame oil house was erected. An extra post lantern with lamp and reservoir was furnished.

1902 – Christiana Beacon, Delaware River, Delaware.—The iron lantern post was replaced with a frame bell house surmounted by a belfry, on the roof of which the lantern was mounted. A 2,100-pound bell was hung in the belfry, and a striking machine was installed in the bell house. The characteristic of the light was changed from fixed white to fixed red, and the fog-signal was put in operation for the first time on November 23, 1901. The elevated jetty walk was repaired and extended 300 feet to the fog-bell house. A new boat landing with davits was built near the upper end of the jetty. The fog-bell striking machine was provided with an electric starting apparatus, consisting of a magneto mounted in the hall of the Christiana light-house and connected with the fog-bell house by a No. 10 copper wire, about 2,150 feet long, mounted on porcelain insulators placed along the railing of the elevated board walk on the jetty.

1903 – Christiana beacon, Delaware River, Delaware.—On April 30, 1903, the characteristic of the fog-signal was changed from a single blow struck every ten seconds to a single blow struck every thirty seconds.

1904 – Christiana beacon, Delaware River, Delaware.—About 84 running feet of elevated walk on the jetty, which has been carried away, was replaced. Various repairs were made.

1905 – Christiana. Beacon, Delaware River, Delaware.—A portion of the jetty walk which had been injured by a vessel running into it, was rebuilt. Repairs were made.

1908 – Discontinued light: Christiana light, Delaware, upon the establishment of the Bellevue range lights, Delaware;

1917 – Christiana north jetty. Walk constructed to tower. $1,408.

1939 – Christiana Lighthouse was demolished after having served as a dwelling for keepers of Bellevue Range for several years.

Keepers: Benjamin A. Crozier (1841 – 1845), James Wolfe (1845 ), Charles B.F. Smith (1845 – 1849), Benjamin A. Crozier (1849 – 1853), Anthony Christy (1853 – 1862), Jacob B. Richardson (1862 – 1866), John Robinson (1866), Charles P Mattock (1866 – 1881), Thomas Bills (1881 – 1885), William H. Peeny (1885 – 1891), John Lund (1891 – 1894), William E. Spicer (1894 – 1909).

Copyright © 2001- Lighthousefriends.com
Pictures on this page copyright National Archives, used by permission.
email Kraig