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White Shoal, VA  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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White Shoal Lighthouse

1852 – Appropriation for a beacon on White Shoal, August 31, 1852, $1,000.

1854 – For beacon-lights on Day’s Point, on the Point of Shoals, on the shore opposite Lyon’s Creek shoals, and on Jordan’s Point, and a day-beacon on White shoal—all on James river, Virginia.—-An examination of James river having been made, and the sites for the several works selected and marked, a report was submitted on the 4th of June following, accompanied by—

  1. A sketch of James river from Newport News to Hog island.
  2. A design for a day—beacon on White shoal, with specifications and an estimate.
  3. A design for light-beacons on the shoal off Day’s Point, on the Point of Shoals, and on the shoal opposite Lyon’s Creek shoal, with specifications and estimates.
  4. A sketch of James river at Jordan’s Point.
  5. A design for a light-beacon on Jordan’s Point, with specifications and an estimate.
  6. Three working drawings of the light-beacons.
  7. Proposals for building the above, (form of advertisement.)
  8. A design of a capstan drum-head to drive screw-piles, with an estimate.
The following extract is from the report: “I desire here to call the attention of the board to the greater usefulness to navigation of this light, (off Glover’s bluff of Day’s Point,) if erected at White shoal, and the transfer of the day-beacon designed for that shell-bank to the edge of the shoal off Day’s Point. An examination of the sketch of this part of the river, imperfect as it is, will, it is believed, demonstrate the propriety of such a change. A light would then be exhibited at the lowest point on the river at which the navigation is at all difficult; and thence to the next light above, the Point of Shoals, say ten miles distant, the sailing course is a straight one, through the best of the water.”
The beacons on James river would have been finally reported upon last year, but for a sudden and protracted illness.
As my duties as a member of the board of engineers of lake harbors and western rivers did not necessarily admit of my taking any more than a supervising part in the foregoing operations, the immediate direction of them was assigned to Mr. G. Castor Smith, civil engineer, as assistant, who, by his indefatiguable industry, intelligence and faithfulness, acquitted himself in a manner to meet my entire approbation. Besides many valuable suggestions, the details of the various designs, as well as the manner of carrying them out, are in a great measure due to him.

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 William Hines $500, D.M. Crumpler $300

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.

1868 – White shoal.—Iron-work of foundation and tin roof painted two coats; railing around gallery repaired; new glass set in windows. It is recommended that a Franklin lamp be substituted for the constant level lamp now in use.

1869 – White Shoals.—A new boat sail, clock, and material for boat falls, have been supplied. The station is to have a new lens, fitted with Funck lamps. This is a screw-pile light-house of the oldest and most inferior design. It is now canted to the westward about one foot from the vertical at the top, and the whole structure is in a very unsafe condition. Should the coming winter be severe enough to form much ice, it is tolerably certain that the light-house will be destroyed thereby, the ice of 1867 being the immediate cause of its present condition. It is proposed to rebuild it after the design of the light-house lately erected on Deep Water Shoal, and an estimate of the probable cost of doing so is submitted for the consideration of Congress.

1870 – White Shoals and Point of Shoals iron screw-piles, Virginia, James River.—Appropriations were made at the last session of Congress of $10,500 for each for rebuilding these two light-houses. The existing structures at these points being in imminent danger of being swept away by freshets and ice, as the one at Deep Water Shoals in the same river had been, careful examinations were made of the locations by soundings, and to determine the nature of the bottom at each place previous to the preparation of the plans for rebuilding them. The engineer of the district submitted a report and plans. The plan of each which has been approved by the board will be in general design similar to the one for Deep Water Shoals, substituting a wooden pile covered with a cast-iron screw sleeve for the solid wrought-iron screw-pile. These structures will in all likelihood be completed during the present fiscal year.

1871 – White Shoals, James River, Virginia., Point of Shoals, James River, Virginia. The two screw-pile Light-houses authorized for White Shoals and Point of Shoals were built during the past year.

1873 – White Shoals, screw-pile light-house, James River, Virginia.—This light-house had formerly a bell rung by hand for a fog-signal. During the past year it has been supplied with one of Stevens's fog-bell machines, which strikes the bell at intervals of ten seconds.

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

1883 – Nansemond River, entrance to Nansemond River, Virginia. White Shoal, James River, Virginia.—New boat-hoisters were placed in position. Both stations are in good condition.

1899 – White Shoal, James River, Virginia.—One of the foundation piles was strengthened by an iron band placed around it. New model fifth-order lamps were supplied in June. Various repairs were made.

1900 – White Shoal, James River, Virginia. – On June 30, 1900, a red sector was put into this light.

1904 – White Shoal, James River, Virginia.—In November the old fog-bell striking apparatus was replaced by a new one.

1920 – L.R. O’Neal, keeper, assisted in repairing disabled engine of motor boat with four persons aboard. Happened on June 8, 1920.

1923 – L.R. O’Neal, assistant keeper of White Shoal Light Station, Va., on November 4, rendered assistance to a disabled motor boat with two occupants aboard.

1928 – B.D. Preston, keeper of White Shoal Lighthouse, Va., on September 17 assisted an oysterman in a disabled motor boat.

1930 – W.A. Gibbs, assistant keeper, White Shoal Light Station, James River, Va., assisted the yacht Forest M, which became disabled in a heavy squall on September 3. Five persons were rescued from the yacht and landed safely at the station.

1933 – Buoys, fifth lighthouse district – Buoys in lieu of lightship, and to replace White Shoal Light Station, Va. Order for buoys has been placed. Cost to June 30, 1933, $18,198.

1934 – White Shoal Lighthouse discontinued and sold.

1977 – Destroyed by ice floes.


  • Head: Jacob H. Wilson (1854 – 1855), William Hines (1855 – 1860), William Hines, Jr. (1860), Peter J. Huneke (1865 – 1870), John R. Duffy (1870 – 1871), John K. Shore (1871 – 1872), George W. Thomas (1872 – 1883), J.W. Bailey (1884 – 1885), Robert W. Pitman (1885 – 1889), Millard F. Simonson (1889 – at least 1917), Stratton B. Robins ( – 1919), Charles S. Hudgins (1919 – 1927), Benjamin D. Preston (at least 1928 – at least 1930).
  • Assistant: Dempsey M. Crumpler (1854 – 1855), William Hines, Jr. (1855 – 1860), James L. Houghton (1860), Charles E. Smith (1860), Nathaniel Gray ( 1861 – ), Margaret Huneke (1865 – 1869), F.S. Beacham (1869 – 1870), George W. Thomas (1870 – 1872), Peter F. Blunt (1872 – 1881), Park Charity (1881 – 1882), John W. Bailey (1882), T. Blankenship (1887), Thomas S. Weston (1887 – 1888), Millard F. Simonson (1888 – 1889), Walter Tonkings (1889), George W. Holloway (1890 – at least 1917), Millard F. Simonson ( – 1919), Leon R. O’Neal (1919 – at least 1923), William A. Gibbs (1928 – 1933).

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