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Maryland Point, MD  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Maryland Point Lighthouse

1887 — Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—The channel of the river is quite narrow here, and there is but 10 feet of water on the apex of the shoal at low stages. Light-draught vessels can easily pass over the shoal, but vessels drawing more than 10 feet are liable to take the ground. The danger to vessels of heavier draught is so great and there are so many plying on the river, that a light is needed here for the completion of the system decided on as necessary fully a dozen years ago. The Board, therefore, recommends that an appropriation of $25,000 be made for the establishment of a light-house and fog-signal at Maryland Point.

1888 — Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—The following is copied from the Board’s annual report of last year:
The channel of the river is quite narrow here, and there is but 10 feet of water on the apex of the shoal at low stages. Light-draught vessels can easily pass over the shoal, but vessels drawing more than 10 feet are liable to take the ground. The danger to vessels of heavier draught is so great, and there are so many plying on the river, that a light is needed here for the completion of the system decided on as necessary fully a dozen years ago.
As the location and character of the foundation will probably require a caisson style of structure, an appropriation of $45,000 is needed for the establishment of a light-house and fog-signal at Maryland Point.

1889 — Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—The following recommendation made in the Board’s annual report for last year is renewed:
The channel of the river is quite narrow here, and there is but 10 feet of water on the apex of the shoal at low stages. Light-draught vessels can easily pass over the shoal, but vessels drawing more than 10 feet are liable to take the ground. The danger to vessels of heavier draught is so great, and there are so many plying on the river, that a light is needed here for the completion of the system decided on as necessary fully a dozen years ago.
An appropriation of $50,000 is recommended for the establishment of a light and fog-signal at this point.

1890 — Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—The following recommendation was made in the Board's annual reports for the last two years: *
The channel of the river is quite narrow here, and there is but 10 feet of water on the apex of the shoal at low stages. Light-draught vessels can easily pass over the shoal, but vessels drawing more than 10 feet are liable to take the ground. The danger to vessels of heavier draught is so great, and there are so many plying on the river, that a light is needed here for the completion of the system decided on as necessary fully a dozen years ago.
*An appropriation of $50,000 was made by the act of August 30, 1890, for the establishment of a light and fog-signal at this place. The proper measures will be taken for the commencement of the work.

1891 – Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—After borings had been made in November to ascertain the nature of the foundation it was decided to place at this locality a screw-pile structure, with the bearing surface augmented by disks attached to the piles so as to rest upon the surface of the shoal. This device obviated the necessity of using very long piles, which, besides being expensive, would be difficult to handle. The necessary drawings and specifications were therefore prepared and printed, and advertisement will at once be made for bids to do the work.

1892 – Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—Bids for furnishing the metal work needed in building this light-house were opened on July 22,1891. The lowest bid received was $8,475. The work was to be completed and delivered within five months after the approval of the contract. This period expired January 11, 1892; but owing to unavoidable delays, the material was not received until March 12. Work on the superstructure was carried on meanwhile at the Lazaretto lighthouse depot, but, on account of interruptions made by more urgent work, little progress was made on this until May. It is now nearly done and will be ready for transportation to the site within six weeks. It is expected that the light-house will be in position, ready for lighting, during the coming autumn.

1893 – Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—At the date of the last annual report work on the superstructure was nearly finished. The iron substructure and the lantern were received from the contractors in March, 1892. The millwork was delivered at the Lazaretto depot in July, and by the end of August the framing of the superstructure was completed. It was then taken down and packed for transportation to the site. On October 18, all the materials and the plant for the erection of the light-house having been loaded on scows, the working party left Baltimore on the tender Jessamine for the site. This steamer and the tender Thistle towed the laden scows. The placing in position of the platform from which the work of setting the substructure could be carried on was commenced on the 20th and finished on the 24th. The shears, hoisting engine, and boiler were put in place on the platform and the metalwork and other materials were transferred to it. The screw piles were then inserted with little difficulty, the sleeve columns and attached disks were secured to the piles, and the connecting braces and the iron base beams for the superstructure were put in place. This work was all done and the erection of the superstructure was begun before the end of October. By December 1 the light-house was finished, and on the 15th its light was exhibited.
The new structure is hexagonal in plan; it consists of a wooden dwelling resting on seven wrought-iron screw piles 40 feet long, and varying in diameter from 7 inches at the top to 10 inches at the bottom or screw end. The piles penetrate 13 feet into the shoal and are provided with circular disks 5 feet in diameter, which rest on the surface of the shoal and augment the bearing capacity of the screws, the shoal being of such a character as to render this provision advisable. The light is flashing white of the fourth order. A fog bell is struck by machinery during thick or foggy weather a double blow at intervals of 15 seconds.

1896 – Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—About 2,100 tons of heavy riprap stone were placed in two piles, one about 100 feet above and the other a like distance below the light-house, to serve as ice breakers. The previous winter showed the need of protecting this pile structure in this way from the action of the ice fields.

1904 – Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—In March, 1904, the fog bell, which had been dislodged from its position by vibration produced by the impact of moving ice, was replaced. Various repairs were made.

1905 – Maryland Point, Potomac River, Maryland.—The stone already in place around the light-house was supplemented by the deposit of about 300 tons of granite in large pieces to provide a better protection against moving ice.

1918 – A.J. Jarvis, assistant keeper, rendered assistance to disabled aeroplane with 1 occupant. Happened on May 25, 1918.

1920 – On February 5, 1920, the keeper of Maryland Point Light Station, Potomac River, abandoned the structure, deeming it unsafe on account of the heavy floating ice in the river at that time. Reports state that it was impossible to operate the light or the fog bell, or to safely keeper a fire in the stove. No damage, except to the riprap ice breakers, resulted at this station, and the keepers returned on February 10. On January 5 and 6, it was also necessary to stop the lens and extinguish the light at this station due to the vibration of the structure caused by running ice.

1921 – At Maryland Point Light Station 1,000 tons of riprap were deposited to form an ice breaker to protect the station from further damage by ice floes.

1926 – J. E. Morgan, keeper of Maryland Point Lighthouse, Md., about September 9, rendered assistance to the occupants of a motor boat which was disabled near the station.

1954 – Economy is bringing an end to a century-long era in which men have left solid ground for days to help vessels navigate the twisting Potomac River.
The U.S. Coast Guard said today that on October 15, Maryland Point Lighthouse, about 12 miles above the Potomac River Bridge, will be converted to automatic operation.
Two coast guardsmen, ending a lonely tour of duty, will had for shore and electricity will replace the light from Aladdin’s lamps which have guided vessels there since 1892.
Maryland Point will be the least of seven offshore lighthouses on the river to succumb to modernization. Keeper George W. Austin, a civilian, who made his home in the 42-foot steel-stilted structure since August 16, 1944, has already left for his North Carolina home.
The two coast guardsmen, assigned as helpers, are staying “aboard” until the conversion, having no contact with the mainland except by boat and radio, they’’ live out the last size weeks as keepers have been doing on the Potomac for 117 years – “cleaning up and playing cards and what-not.”
Cmdr. Clarence N. Daniles, chief of the Aids to Navigation Section, 5th Coast Guard District, at Norfolk, said the Maryland Point conversion is a part of a long-range economy program.
“If we can operate the lights unattended without increasing the hazard to navigation, we are doing it,” he said.

1963 – The wooden lighthouse was dismantled and replaced by a light displayed from a skeletal tower mounted on the screwpile foundation.

  • Head John Peterson (1892 – 1896), James B. Williams (1896 – 1897), William K. Slacum (1897 – 1898), John B. Fitzhugh (1898 – 1901), John E. Faulkner (1901 – 1905), Loch W. Humphreys (1905 – 1909), George S. Holland (1909 – 1914), Charles H. Applegarth (1914 – at least 1921), John E. Morgan (1925 – at least 1926), J.M. Marchant (at least 1930), John F. Riley (1936 – 1940), Henry R. Hanberry (at least 1942), George W. Austin (1944 – 1954).
  • Assistant: William J. Leary (1892), Augustus A. Creighton (1893), Joseph I. Bowling (1893 – 1895), John B. Fitzhugh (1895 – 1898), Albert Olsen (1898 – 1899), John H. Grain (1899 – 1900), George P. Hudgins (1900), Henry T. Peregoy (1900), Lawrence Lee (1901), Charles F. Taylor (1901), Joseph B. Dailey (1901), Richard M. Grymes (1901 – 1902), Amasa Fulcher (1902 – 1903), Andrew J. Jarvis (1903), Samuel R.J. Norris (1903), Joseph F. Mercer (1903 – 1905), Charles S. Hudgins (1905 – 1906), George W.T. Ward (1906 – 1907), Thomas L. Fulcher (1907), Clarence D. Morris (1907 – 1911), Charles A. Larsen (1911 – at least 1915), Harry O. Monsell ( – 1917), Andrew J. Jarvis (1917 – 1918), Thomas H. Tolson (1918 – at least 1919), Colburn Shores ( – 1921), Severn C. Parks (1921 –), George F. Hudgins (1932 – 1933), Severn C. Parks (at least 1939).

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