Craney Island Light

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Craney Island Light
Craney Island Light.PNG
Undated photograph of Craney Island Light (USCG)
Craney Island Light is located in Virginia
Craney Island Light
Locationjust east of Craney Island at the mouth of the Elizabeth River
Coordinates36°53′31″N 76°20′13″W / 36.892°N 76.337°W / 36.892; -76.337Coordinates: 36°53′31″N 76°20′13″W / 36.892°N 76.337°W / 36.892; -76.337 (approx.)
Year first lit1859 (first);
1884 (second)
Tower shapesquare house (first);
hexagonal house (second)
Tower height36 feet (11 m)
Original lensfifth-order Fresnel lens

The Craney Island Light was a screwpile lighthouse located just east of Craney Island at the mouth of the Elizabeth River in Virginia. This light replaced the first permanently stationed lightship in the United States.


Craney Island forms the west side of the entrance to Norfolk's harbor and has been used as a military facility since the War of 1812. In 1820 a lightship was stationed off its eastern side to protect the edge of the channel. This ship had previously been stationed off Willoughby's Shoal, but was quickly moved after it was determined that the first location was too exposed. This was the first permanent lightship station in the country; it was replaced in 1859 by the first of two screw-pile lights, a square house which survived until 1884. In that year the decrepit structure was replaced with a new hexagonal house, which in turn was removed in 1936, to be replaced by an automated light on the old foundation. In the early 1970s the light was completely removed and replaced by a buoy.


  • "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: Virginia". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.
  • Craney Island Light, from the Chesapeake Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society
  • de Gast, Robert (1973). The Lighthouses of the Chesapeake. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 149.
  • Norfolk Harbor and Elizabeth River (Map). 1:20,000. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2006. Chart no. 12253.