Home Maps Resources Calendar About
Resources Calendar About
Deep Water Shoals, VA  Lighthouse destroyed.   

Select a photograph to view a photo gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

See our full List of Lighthouses in Virginia

Deep Water Shoals Lighthouse

1837 – From the mouth of James river to the head of its navigation there is not a light of any sort, or a buoy laid down; and yet its channel is peculiarly intricate, and the shoals and bars numerous. All vessels of any draught are, therefore, obliged to anchor at night, even with a fair wind. This inconvenience, causing such loss of time, could be effectually removed by the erection of THREE lights—one at Day's point, one at the Point of Shoals, and the other at Deep Water and Lyon's Creek shoals. With a light at each of those points, the heaviest ships could run in the night up to Hog island, about forty miles; and ships of lighter draught might go as high as Harrison's bar, about eighty or ninety miles from Hampton roads. This is the opinion of an experienced pilot, whom I employed to aid me, and whose letter will accompany this. The erection of a light on either of the points above named would (alone) be almost useless, as vessels, (except small ones,) on reaching it, would be obliged to anchor; and the three are situated within the distance of about fourteen miles. But if it be intended to erect one light, and only one, then I would, in that case, recommend its being placed on the Point of Shoals, as it is the most dangerous situation on James river.
Beverly Kennon
Capt. U.S. Navy

1852 – For a beacon light on the shore opposite Lyon’s Creek Shoals, in the State of Virginia, August 31, 1852, $5,000.

1854 – Screw-pile light-houses were commenced at Pungoteague, Eastern Shore of Virginia, and on White Shoal, Point of Shoals, and Deep Water Shoal, James river, Virginia; also a light-house on Jordan's Point, on the same river.

1855 – White shoals, Point of shoals, and Deep Water shoals.—Screw-pile light beacons which were in course of construction at the date of my last report were completed shortly afterwards. A large sized pressed-glass masthead lens was suspended in the lantern of each house and exhibited on the 6th February, 1855. These masthead lenses were found upon trial to answer all the purposes of navigation on James river, Virginia, and were permanently substituted for the fifth order Fresnel lenses originally intended for these light-houses.

1855 – Keeper James H. Ransom $500, Thomas Ransom $300.

1857 – The screw-pile light-house at Deep Water shoal, in the James river, having suffered considerable damage from the ice and storms of the past winter, temporary repairs were made, to enable the keeper to continue the exhibition of the light, and an entire new structure will be erected before the close of the season.
The other screw-pile lights in James river suffered, but not to the same extent, from the effects of the running ice upon its breaking up.
All necessary repairs have been made.

1862 – White shoals, Point of Shoals, Deep Water shoals, James river, lenses, &c, removed.

1862 – The lights on James river, at White shoal, Point of Shoals, and Deep Water Shoal, were re-exhibited during the past summer; but, upon the withdrawal of the army from the peninsula, their services were no longer necessary, and the apparatus was taken down and stored at Fortress Monroe.

1864 – Upon the movement of the army of the Potomac to the south side of James river, necessitating the use of that highway as a medium for transporting stores and supplies, the lights at Point of Shoals, White shoals, and Deep Water shoals, were re-established, and have been, up to this time, continued in operation. Their permanency will depend upon their protection from the enemy.

1865 – It was only late in the year that the greater portion of the southern part of this district was brought permanently under the control of the government.
In the northern part, the service of the district has been well attended to, and the various aids to navigation maintained in an efficient condition.
In James river the screw-pile light-houses at White shoals, Point of Shoals, and Deep Water shoals, which had been but slightly injured by the enemy, were temporarily put in order, and provided with new fog-bells and illuminating apparatus.

1867 – New boats have been supplied to Blackistone's island, New Point Comfort, White Shoals, Point of Shoals, and Deep Water Shoals, light-stations.

1867 – The light-house at Deep-water shoals, in James river, Virginia, was destroyed by ice on the 20th of January last. Its destruction was made the subject of a special report to Congress. An estimate of the cost of a more substantial structure was submitted, and the necessary appropriation was made available on the 1st July, coupled with the condition that the work should be done by contract. Its construction is now in progress, to be finished by the 1st January, 1868.

For rebuilding light-house on Deep Water Shoals, in James River, March 2, 1867, $16,000.

1868 – Deep Water shoals.—The new light-house at this place, which at the date of the last annual report was under construction, was completed and lighted on the evening of January 15, 1868.

1869 – Deep Water Shoals.—The roof of the keeper's dwelling requires slight repairs. After these are made and a new boat supplied to the station, it will be in good order.

1872 – Deep Water Shoals, River James, Virginia.—This light-house was painted throughout, and had other repairs made to it. The piles of the old light-house, which was destroyed by ice in 1866, were taken out and sent to the depot at Lazaretto Point, where they will be available for other works in the district or for dumb-beacons.

1881 – Deep Water Shoals, James River, Virginia. These structures were painted inside and out, and minor repairs made.

1883 – Deep-Water Shoals, James River, Virginia.—New boat-hoisters were provided in October. The present condition of the station is fair.

1918 – R.H. Mathews, assistant keeper, rescued 4 soldiers adrift in a sailboat during a storm. Happened on August 7, 1918.

1966 – Deep Water Shoals Lighthouse was torn down and replaced by a skeleton tower mounted on the screwpile foundation.


  • Head: James H. Ransom (1854 – 1860), Allen Hogg (1860), William Anderson (1865 – 1867), William Anderson (1868), Cornelius Merton (1868 – 1870), Robert B. Mitchell (1870 – 1873), Isaac F. Leburn (1873), William E. Crockett (1873 – 1874), Santa A. Morse (1874 – 1885), Theodorick Bland (1885), Benjamin Fenner (1885 – 1888), William M. Colgin (1888 – 1889), William Walker (1889 – 1891), James B. Hurst (1891), Edward W. Lee (1891 – 1894), Charles E. Respess (1894 – 1897), Josiah J. Wilson (1897 – 1900), James T. Parks (1900 – 1907), Alexander P. Hurst (1907 – 1928), Amasa J. Quidley (1928 – 1929), George G. Johnson (1929 – 1931), A.F. Ripley (1935 – 1936), John R. Edwards (1936 – 1943), Thomas J. Cropper (1943 – 1944).
  • Assistant: Thomas Ransom (1854 – 1856), W.J. Barrett (1856), William F. Ransom (1856 – 1857), Dempsey M. Crumpler (1857 – 1858), Washington Joynes (1858 – 1859), Allen Hogg (1859 – 1860), Isaac F. Morrisett (1860), John Howard (1865 – 1866), Robert Howard (1866 – 1868), Cornelius Merton (1868), Virginia Hobbs (1868 – 1870), James O. Wakefield (1870 – 1871), Frederick Aldridge (1871 – 1872), William Brown (1872 – 1873), Isaac F. Leburn (1873), Santa A. Morse (1873 – 1874), Thomas Hunt (1874 – 1876), Samuel T. Jones (1876 – 1877), Edward T. Hill (1877 – 1879), E.H. Brown (1879 – 1885), Benjamin Fenner (1885), Thomas E. Fenner (1885 – 1887), William M. Colgin (1888), William H. Jones (1889), Alphonso Royster (1889 – 1890), Edward W. Lee (1890 – 1891), John Cary (1891), Charles H. Brown (1891 – 1894), Josiah J. Wilson (1894 – 1897), Walter S. Hudgins (1898 – 1902), Olaf A. Olsen (1902), Walter C. Joynes (1902), Henry H. Wingate (1902 – 1903), Arthur L. Small (1903 – 1906), Charles S. Hudgins (1906 – 1907), Robert F. Powell (1907 – at least 1913), Harry O. Monsell (1914 – ), Thomas J. Cropper (at least 1915 – at least 1917), Robert H. Matthews (1918 – 1920), John W. Casey (1920 – at least 1921), Utah C. Jennett ( – 1924), Amasa J. Quidley (1924 – ), J.W. Simpson (at least 1930), Thomas J. Cropper (at least 1930 – at least 1942).

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