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Hog Island, VA  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Hog Island Lighthouse

1837 – For erecting a light-house on the south end of Hog island, on the Atlantic coast 5,000

1837 – HOG ISLAND, NAVY COMMISSIONERS' OFFICE December 15, 1837.

The reasons assigned by Captain Claxton, in support of his opinion that the interests of commerce did not require the erection of a light-house at this place, induced the board not to recommend any measures for carrying the object of the appropriation into effect. I CHAUNCEY.

"For the erection of a light-house on the south end of Hog island, on the Atlantic coast $5000."
GENTLEMEN: The south end of Hog island is the most proper location for a light-house, as here is found a tolerably good harbor for coasters, and the neighboring district has some commerce of its own. The entrance to this harbor is now buoyed, in consequence of former appropriations. I am of opinion that the sum appropriated is not sufficient, if the proposed lighthouse is to be built of brick or stone, as these materials must necessarily be transported from elsewhere.
I am also of opinion that no light house should be erected on Hog island at all. No “additional facility to commerce” can be obtained by such structure at this point. The island is comparatively high and wooded, and forms a marked feature on this line of sea board; a light-house could add nothing to its immediate recognition by day, and, situated as it is, nearly equi-distant from Smith's island light-house, (Cape Charles,) and Chingoteag light, (distant some forty five miles,) would by night bewilder the mariner, by the multiplicity of lights on the same line of course.
The shoals of Hog island extend seaward for three miles, but they are still within the line of course for craft sailing inside of the dangers of Chingoteag, and still much further within for ships passing outside of those dangers.
A light-house here cannot be made the means of enabling a vessel to enter the harbor by night, and if it could, the place is so little frequented as to render it inexpedient. A light-vessel would be much more useful here than a light-house but, repeating my remark that three lights on this direct line of coast, all within forty-five miles, would undoubtedly produce such confusion to the navigator as to lead to greater danger than now exists, I therefore submit to the honorable Board of Navy Commissioners that a light-house on Hog island is uncalled for by the wants of commerce, and ought not to be erected.
Respectfully, &,c.,
ALEXANDER CLAXTON.
Com. JOHN RODGERS,
President of the Board of Navy Commissioners.

1850 - For two lights on the south end of Hog Island, as a Hog Island, range for the channel of Great Mutchipungo, or on Sand Shoal, as the one or the other, upon actual survey, may be found to be best, ten thousand dollars; and the appropriation of ten thousand dollars, made by the act of the fourteenth August, eighteen hundred and forty-eight, for two lights on Sand Shoal Inlet, be, and is hereby, repealed.

1851 – Arthur W. and Mary Downing and Richard B. Windsor convey six-and-a-half acres of land on Hog Island to the United States on may 31, 1851 for $500. <1854> Hog Island Light was a fixed white light, visible 13 miles. The light was exhibited at a height of 45 feet above land and sixty feet above the sea using 15 lamps set in twenty-one-inch reflectors.

1856 – New illuminating apparatus has been placed in the following lighthouses, in this district, during the past year, viz: Hog island, New Point Comfort, Pool's island, Turkey Point, Sharpe's island, Pamlico Point, Fishing Battery, Clay island, Blackistone's island, the two at North Point, and Beacon island.

1862 – Immediately upon the restoration of the eastern shore of Virginia to governmental control by the military operations in that quarter, the lights at Cape Charles, Cherrystone, and Hog island were re-established, and have rendered assistance of no small importance to the immensely increased navigation of Chesapeake bay and tributaries. The lights, main and beacon, at Cape Hatteras have been restored and re-established. The light at Naval Hospital, near Norfolk, has been relighted. A temporary light has been exhibited from the ruins of the light-house at Craney island, and the work of permanently restoring that structure is in progress.

1868 – Hog island.—Window frames and sashes in tower repaired; a door and frame supplied; all wood-work painted; lantern painted inside and out; an enclosure, picket fence, 40 feet square, built around the tower, and a similar fence built, 80 feet square, for garden; new set of blinds for windows of dwelling house fitted, hung, and painted; in the dwelling, doors, windows, and floors repaired; hearths relaid; plastering in all the rooms repaired; all wood-work painted two coats; house, tower, and fences whitewashed two coats; new glass set where required, and landing wharf repaired; cistern put in good order.
It is recommended that the present lamp (fountain) be removed and a Franklin lamp substituted in its place. Slight repairs to the roof of the dwelling are also reported to be necessary.

1869 – Hog Island.—The lightning rod on the tower has been fitted with a new point, and a Franklin lamp has been substituted for the constant, level lamp previously used. It is proposed to build a boat-house, put a picket fence around the keeper's dwelling, and to make some slight repairs to the dwelling itself.

1883 – Hog Island, on the west point of Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, Virginia.—A new drive-well was put down, and numerous minor repairs were made. The light-station is at present in good condition.

1888 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, sea-coast of Virginia.—This is of little advantage except to vessels running close along-shore. The Board recommends, in order to increase its efficiency as a coast light, the substitution of a first-order light for the present fourth-order light. There are unlighted gaps between this light and Assateague on the north and Cape Charles on the south of about 5 miles and 2 miles, respectively, which a first-order lens, placed on a tower 150 feet high, would illuminate. Its range of visibility, which would be more than 18 miles, would intersect the Assateague light in 18 fathoms water. A first-order light on that island would be of great assistance to vessels trading on that coast. It is estimated that a first-order light can be substituted for the present fourth-order light at Hog Island, at a cost of $125,000.

A bill was introduced into the House of Representatives making an appropriation of $5,000, providing for the construction of a wharf and a roadway on Hog Island, Virginia, from the wharf to the light-house and the life-saving station, and the views of the Board were asked as to the propriety of the passage of this bill. The Board replied that the work of the Light-House Service would be much facilitated by the construction of this wharf and road, and it therefore recommended the passage of the bill in question. That recommendation is now renewed. A bill authorizing the construction of this roadway and wharf was passed at the current session of Congress, but no appropriation was made therefor.

1889 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, sea-coast of Virginia.—The following recommendation made in the last annual report is renewed:
This is of little advantage except to vessels running close along-shore. The Board recommends, in order to increase its efficiency as a coast light, the substitution of a first-order light for the present fourth-order light. There are unlighted gaps between this light and Assateague on the north and Cape Charles on the south of about 5 miles and 2 miles, respectively, which a first-order lens, placed on a tower 150 feet high, would illuminate. Its range of visibility, which would be more than 18 miles, would intersect the Assateague light in 18 fathoms water. A first-order light on that island would be of great assistance to vessels trading on that coast. It is estimated that a first-order light can be substituted for the present fourth-order light at Hog Island at a cost of $125,000.
An appropriation of $5,000, approved March 2, 1889, was made by Congress to establish and complete a wharf and roadway to the lighthouse at Hog Island. This will be of great service should the new lighthouse proposed be authorized by Congress, as the landing of materials within a convenient distance of the site and their transportation thereto are necessities in its construction.

1890 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, sea-coast of Virginia.—No repairs were made during the year. Some are needed to the dwelling and cistern. The following remarks are taken from the annual reports for 1888 and 1889, and the recommendation made therein is again renewed:
This is of little advantage except to vessels running close along-shore. The Board recommends, in order to increase its efficiency as a coast light, the substitution of a first-order light for the present fourth-order light. There are unlighted gaps between this light and Assateague on the north and Cape Charles on the south of about 5 miles and 2 miles, respectively, which a first-order lens, placed on a tower 150 feet high, would illuminate. Its range of visibility, which would be more than 18 miles, would intersect the Assateague light in 18 fathoms of water. A first-order light on that island would be of great assistance to vessels trading on that coast. It is estimated that a first-order light can be substituted for the present fourth-order light at Hog bland at a cost of $125,000.
It is recommended that this amount be appropriated therefor.
An appropriation of $5,000, approved March 2,1889, was made to establish and complete a wharf and roadway to the present light-house at Hog Island. It is held by the accounting officers that the language of the act does not authorize the purchase of the land for the site of the wharf and the right-of-way for the road. Recommendation is therefore made that the requisite authority be given by due legislation.

1891 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, seacoast of Virginia.—In August the cistern was repaired and a new pump was furnished. The authority asked of Congress for the purchase of the land required for the site of the wharf, and right of way for the road to be built at this station, was granted by act of March 3, 1891. Arrangements are now being made for the acquisition of the necessary property. Various repairs were made. The following recommendation made in the Board's annual reports for each of the last four years is again renewed:
This is of little advantage except to vessels running close alongshore. The Board recommends, in order to increase its efficiency as a coast light, the substitution of a first-order light for the present fourth-order light. There are unlighted gaps between this light and Assateague on the north and Cape Charles on the south of about 5 miles and 2 miles, respectively, which a first-order lens, placed on a tower 150 feet high, would illuminate. Its range of visibility, which would be more than 18 miles, would intersect the Assateague Light in 18 fathoms of water. A first-order light on that island would be of great assistance to vessels trading on that coast. It is estimated that a first-order light can be substituted for the present fourth-order light at Hog Island at a cost of $125,000.
It is recommended that this amount be appropriated therefor.

1892 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, seacoast of Virginia.—The proper United States attorney reports that the title to the land sought to be acquired for the purpose of building a wharf and roadway at Hog Island is defective. This is the more regretted as the necessary tract was offered to the Government by the holders at a nominal price. It may be necessary to acquire title to this site by condemnation. The full report of the United States attorney is needed before action in the matter. The following recommendation made in the Board's annual reports for each of the last five years is again renewed:
This light is of little advantage except to vessels running close alongshore. The Board recommends, in order to increase its efficiency as a coast light, the substitution of a first-order light for the present fourth-order light. There are unlighted gaps between this light and Assateague on the north and Cape Charles on the south of about 5 miles and 2 miles, respectively, which a first-order lens, placed on a tower 150 feet high, would illuminate. Its range of visibility, which would be more than 18 miles, would intersect the Assateague light in 18 fathoms of water. A first-order light on that island would be of great assistance to vessels trading on that coast. It is estimated that a first-order light can be substituted for the present fourth-order light at Hog Island at a cost of $125,000.
It is recommended that this amount he appropriated therefor.

1893 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, sea-coast of Virginia.—Some difficulty and much delay were experienced in acquiring title to the land needed for building a wharf and roadway at Hog Island. The United States Attorney, charged with this duty, reported at first that the title was defective, but subsequently reconsidered his opinion and prepared a deed of conveyance.
On account of absence of the owner and for other reasons, this deed was not executed until January, 1893, and the title had not been finally passed upon by the United States Attorney up to the date of his resignation in April. His successor is now engaged upon a review of the papers, and it is expected that a decision will soon be had. Meanwhile plans for the proposed wharf have been prepared, so that there may be no unnecessary delay after the site shall have been secured. The plans for a structure of the same class as that at Cape Charles, Va., to be built of iron, had already been completed. Arrangements were promptly made for the incorporation therewith of the Hog Island structure, and in April, 1893, bids were asked for building both light-towers. The bills were opened on May 17, and the lowest bid, that of $78,209, for both light-houses, was duly accepted. Contracts were made with the lowest bidder, and the construction of the ironwork was commenced. Negotiations are progressing for the acquisition of a new site for the Hog Island light-station. The owner of the needed land offers to exchange it for the present light-house tract, although it is inferior in value. It is recommended that Congress be asked to grant the necessary legislation to authorize the exchange, as the Government will be benefited thereby. By act approved March 3, 1893, Congress appropriated $30,000 for replacing by a first-order light, the fourth order light now at Hog Island, and authorized contract therefor to the amount of $125,000. The Board now recommends that appropriation be made for the balance of the $125,000, that is for $95,000, that Hog Island light house may be duly completed.

1894 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, seacoast of Virginia.—This station is in bad order, but no repairs were made in view of the fact that it is soon to be replaced by a better-equipped station on a new site. Owing to lack of funds, it was impracticable to undertake the work of preparing the foundation of the new tower, or any other operations at the new station. The $30,000 appropriated by the act approved March 3, 1893, was expended in preliminary work and in partly paying for the iron tower, which is nearly completed at the contractor's shops. About $75,000 more will be required to complete and properly equip the new light-station, and an appropriation of this amount by Congress is urgently recommended.
The construction of a permanent wharf and roadway leading to the site, under a specific appropriation therefor, was commenced early in April, the deed to the necessary land having been approved by the Attorney-General of the United States. The wharf is 930 feet long and 12 feet wide, with a pierhead 30 feet by 72 feet. It is constructed of cast iron sleeve columns resting on and embracing wooden piles, except the shore end, which is built of pine piles without sleeves. In its construction there were used 204 piles and 38,000 feet of pine decking. It was completed during May.
NOTE.—An appropriation of $75,000 was made in the sundry civil appropriation act approved August 18, 1894, for the completion of this light-station. Plans for all the required structures have been approved, and the work of construction will be pushed as rapidly as practicable.

1895 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, seacoast of Virginia.—On the passage of the act approved August 18, 1894, appropriating $75,000 for completing the new light-station, measures were taken to procure the necessary material for temporary buildings and working plant at the site. By January, 1895, the quarters for the working party, a cistern, storehouses and shop, a tramway leading from the wharf to the site, and a boom derrick, boiler, and engine on the wharf had been erected. The work was much delayed by failure to receive material at the times arranged for.
The preparation of the foundation for the tower was then begun. Concrete piers, eight in number, 11 feet square at the base and 6 feet 6 inches high, with pile and grillage supports, were formed at the angles of the perimeter of an octagon of which the circumscribed circle has a diameter of 26 feet 6 inches; and a similar pier, 14 feet square, of the same height, and resting on piles and grillage, was constructed at the center of the circle. Bolts were built into the perimeter piers during the process of depositing the concrete in the molds to form the blocks, for the purpose of anchoring the outer columns of the tower, the inner pier serving to support the central cylinder of the light-house containing the stairs and elevator. These piers were completed in April, 1895, the work having been considerably retarded by the unusual severity of the winter. Besides these, three smaller piers were built in May for supporting the outer stairway and platform of the tower.
Meantime, the preparation of the woodwork of the dwellings and other buildings for the station was progressing satisfactorily at the depot. As the material for each building was completed it was properly arranged for shipment and transported at intervals by a hired schooner. Most of the work had in this way been delivered by the end of February, 1895, and in March excavation for the foundation of the two dwellings for the assistant keepers, and in May, 1895, for the principal keeper's house, was begun.
The metal work for the tower was delivered at the station on June 14,1895, and its erection was at once begun by the contractor's working party. By the end of the month the iron disks had been set on the foundation piers over the anchor bolts and bedded in cement. The cylinder belt of the stairway, the wrought-iron struts connecting the disks to the cylinder, and the castings for the latter, had been put in place and bolted, bringing the central cylinder up to a height of 27 feet. The three keepers' dwellings are well advanced toward completion, the store and out houses for all the dwellings have been built, but have yet to be moved to permanent foundations, and the foundations for the workshop, for the storehouse, and for the oil house are partly built.
About one-half of the light-house premises has been graded by filling in low places with sand.

1896 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, seacoast of Virginia.—At the date of the last annual report the erection of the iron tower had been begun. It was completed on September 30, 1895. Work on the structures at the station was kept up until the middle of November, when the keepers were transferred from their former quarters to the new ones, and on January 31, 1896, the light was shown. The lens, which had been in use at the Cape Charles light-station before the removal of the latter to a new site, was, by slight alterations, made to serve the purpose at Hog Island, and it was put in place with little difficulty. The new light shows a white flash of 3 seconds' duration at intervals of 45 seconds.

1897 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, seacoast of Virginia.—The temporary quarters, cistern, and stable were removed and the materials stored. Steps were made for the porches of the three dwellings, for the kitchens of the two assistant keepers' houses, and for the wood sheds. Mantels, dressers, closets, and shelving were put up, sash locks put on windows and hooks on blinds, and the washboarding was completed. Some painting was done.

1898 – To facilitate communication with seacoast light-stations for assisting in the defense of the nation, telephonic communication was made by connections with the telephone lines of the Life-Saving Service at the following-named light-stations:
Hog Island, Va.
Bodie Island, N. C.
Currituck Beach, N. C.
Cape Hatteras, N. C.
Cape Lookout, N. C.
At the last-named station it was necessary to build 11 miles of land and 2 miles of cable line. Telephone instruments were installed at all of these stations. Outfits for exchanging signals with vessels have been supplied to the light-stations at Hog Island, Virginia, Bodie Island, North Carolina, and Currituck Beach, North Carolina.

1898 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, seacoast of Virginia.—In July telephone instruments were placed in the tower and in each of the dwellings, and the requisite wire connections were made for communication between the keepers.

1899 – Hog Island, Great Machipongo Inlet, seacoast of Virginia.—Some 1,374 running feet of new picket fence 5 feet high was built, inclosing the light-house tract, with two double and three single gates. About 1,000 feet of ditches were cut and two wooden troughs were made to drain the premises, and the lot was thoroughly graded. Some 257 running feet of wooden walks were laid from the entrance gate to the main road. The old sheds, shops, and storehouses, the old tramway, land the derrick, boiler and engine used in the construction of the station, were removed. A platform, with steps connecting one of the outbuildings with the dwelling, was made. The fences and all the buildings except the tower and dwellings were thoroughly painted.

1904 – Hog Island, seacoast of Virginia.—The addition to the landing wharf, 294 feet long, which had been carried away during a heavy storm, was rebuilt. Various repairs were made.

1905 – Hog Island Inlet range, Virginia.—Two steel skeleton frame structures were erected to serve, when lighted, to guide in across the outer bar at Great Machipongo Inlet.

1906 – Hog Island Inlet Range, Cobb Island Virginia.—The structures, erected in June, 1905, were lighted May 1, 1906. One month later, because of the undermining and dangerous condition of the front structure, both lights were discontinued until further notice.

1916 – Keeper Allie L. Davis awarded lighthouse efficiency pennant for 1916.

1921 – general repairs to tower, dwellings, and outbuildings, $6,077.

1927 – Keeper Hillary Quillen helped with the Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia that closed on November 30, 1926.

1934 – With the recent electrification of Cape Charles and Hog Island Light Stations, Va., a complete electrification of all primary seacoast lighthouses within the fifth lighthouse district has been accomplished. The last two installations are of interest as involving lenses of different types, and new motor-drive devices of somewhat different design.
The lens at Cape Charles was installed about 40 years ago after having been exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair, and marked a radical departure in the construction of lighthouse optical apparatus of the first order. The lens and base were mounted on a vertical shaft supported by a mercury float on the lantern floor. As originally installed, the incandescent oil-vapor lamp and the oil tanks all revolved with the lens. The lens clock was mounted on the lantern floor, and revolved the lens by means of a horizontal shaft and a bevel and spur gear connection to the lens mount. In electrifying the lens this horizontal shaft was extended and an additional spur gear fitted. Through this gear the lens may now be driven by either of two electric motors. Speed reducters are fitted between the motors and the spur gear, and each driving unit is protected by sentinel breakers and clutches on the motor-drive pinion. This equipment, on tests and during the first few weeks of operation, has performed satisfactorily, a constant lens speed being maintained, and with no strain when the lens is started.
At Hog Island the eight-panel flashing lens is of an old type originally mounted on chariot wheels. The wheels were removed about 15 years ago and replaced by a ball bearing, which has since given satisfactory service. This lens was originally driven by a clock through a pinion which meshed with a gear on the lens mount. In electrifying the lens a brass plate was attached to the lens base immediately under the ball race, being secured by brackets to the lens column. On this plate are mounted two 1/12-horsepower electric motors and a double perpendicular speed reducer. The reducer has two horizontal shafts connecting to the motors and a vertical shaft with a pinion which meshes with the lens gear. All three shafts are fitted with clutches. The lens makes one complete revolution every 6 minutes.
At both stations the old lens clocks have been left in place and can, if necessary, be placed in service immediately. Both of these stations are equipped with two shunt wound generator sets and storage batteries and all necessary accessories for lighting the tower, driving the lens, and lighting the keeper’s quarters. Alarm signals are also to be provided.

1934 – Hog Island and Cape Charles. Contract has been awarded for heating and plumbing systems in four dwellings. Cost to June 30, 1934, $11,750.

1935 – Hog Island and Cape Charles. See annual report, 1934, page 111. Modern plumbing and improved heating systems have been installed in two dwellings at each of these stations. Project completed. Total cost, $12,353.

1948 – Threatened by erosion, Hog Island Lighthouse was discontinued and demolished.

2004 – The first-order lens was placed on display in a pavilion on the waterfront in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Keepers:

  • Head: Luther H. Read (1852 – 1853), Richard Walter (1853 – 1862), Louis J. Carpenter (1862), J.G. Potts (1862 – 1864), David N. Bool (1864 – 1872), Isaac D. Robins (1872 – 1879), Thomas H. Braxton (1879 – 1883), Frank Hoskins (1883 – 1885), Joseph B. Ames (1885 – 1886), George W. Doughty ( 1886 – 1908), James G. Williams (1908 – 1911), Walter S. Hudgins (1911 – at least 1913), Allie L. Davis (1914 – 1919), Clarence W. Salter (1919 – 1922), James Hillary Quillen (1922 – at least 1931).
  • First Assistant: Sallie Bool (1867 – 1871), E.B. Custis (1871), Sallie Bool (1871 – 1872), E. B. Custis (1872 – at least 1873), Anderson Dumas (1874 – 1879), Alfred J. Spady (1879 – 1880), Frank Hoskins (1880), Victor C. Collins (1880 – 1882), William C. Beckett (1882 – at least 1883), Belford Francis (1884 – 1885), George W. Doughty (1885 – 1886), Francis J. Rolley (1896 – 1900), John Spence (1900 – 1902), George P. Hudgins (1902 – 1906), Arthur L. Small (1906 – 1908), George A. Fowler (1908 – 1915), Clarence W. Salter (1915 – at least 1917), Andrew J. Jarvis (1917), Hillary Quillen (1917 – 1918), Clarence W. Salter (1919), Carl G. Marsh (1919 – at least 1921), Eldred J. Cherrix (1925 – 1929), William S. Etheridge (at least 1930).
  • Second Assistant: Fletcher Browne (1896 – 1901), Ray Phillips (1901), George P. Hudgins (1901 – 1902), Charles A. Sterling (1902 – 1905), Andrew J. Jarvis (1905 – at least 1917), Carl G. Marsh (1919), Ray Phillips (at least 1919), Caleb W. Evans (1920 – 1921), Alexander E. Mann (1921 – 1922), Eldred J. Cherrix (1922), William S. Etheridge (at least 1926), Utah C. Jenett (1930), Robert L. Carpenter (at least 1930).

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