Thimble Shoal Light

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Thimble Shoal Light
Thimble Shoals Light.jpg
Undated photograph of Thimble Shoal Light
A temporary structure sits on the old screw-pile foundation to the right.
Thimble Shoal Light is located in Virginia
Thimble Shoal Light
Locationin the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia four miles ENE of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel
Coordinates37°00′53″N 76°14′24″W / 37.0146°N 76.2399°W / 37.0146; -76.2399Coordinates: 37°00′53″N 76°14′24″W / 37.0146°N 76.2399°W / 37.0146; -76.2399
Year first constructed1872 (first light)
1880 (second light)
Year first lit1914
Constructioncast iron/concrete
Tower shapeCylindrical
Markings / patternRed conical tower on brown cylindrical pier
Focal height55 feet (17 m)
Original lensfourth order Fresnel lens
Current lensRB-355 aerobeacon
Range18 nautical miles (33 km; 21 mi)
CharacteristicFlashing white, 10 sec
Admiralty numberJ1416
ARLHS numberUSA-482
USCG number2-9310

[1] [2]

Heritageplace listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata
Thimble Shoal Light Station
Nearest cityHampton City, Virginia
Arealess than one acre
Built byU.S. Lighthouse Board
MPSLight Stations of the United States MPS
NRHP reference #02001436[4]
VLR #114-0096
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 2, 2002
Designated VLRSeptember 10, 2003[5]

Thimble Shoal Light is a sparkplug lighthouse in the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay, north of the Hampton Roads channel. The third light at this location, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The first light at this location was a hexagonal screw-pile lighthouse erected in 1872, replacing the last lightship stationed within the bay. It was destroyed by fire in 1880 and replaced in the same year with a new house on the same foundation. This was facilitated by the availability of a newly constructed house originally intended for the Bells Rock Light, so that the light was out of service for only fifty-five days.

The second light was plagued by collisions with passing ships: it was struck by a steamer in 1891, by a coal barge in 1898, and finally by the schooner Malcolm Baxter, Jr., which struck the lighthouse on December 27, 1909 while under tow. This last collision damaged the foundation and overturned the stove in the house, which was destroyed by fire.

A caisson light was placed next to the old site in 1914; in the meantime, a temporary light perched on the remains of the old screw-pile foundation. This light has several unusual features for such lights in the bay area, most notably the diamond-shaped panes in the lantern and the round porthole windows. Unlike its predecessors, it passed time relatively uneventfully, with automation coming in 1964. The broken, skeletal remains of the old foundation remained next to the light until their removal in the 2000s. As with most lights the original Fresnel lens has been removed, replaced by more modern beacons; in this case the lens is displayed at the Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown, Virginia. Though worn from years of vacancy, it retains most of the canopy over the lower level gallery. In 2005 it was sold at auction to a private interest, but remains an active aid to navigation.


  1. ^ Light List, Volume II, Atlantic Coast, Shrewsbury River, New Jersey to Little River, South Carolina (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2012. p. 91.
  2. ^ "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: Virginia". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.
  3. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of the United States: Virginia". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  4. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  5. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 19 March 2013.


External links[edit]

Media related to Thimble Shoals lighthouse at Wikimedia Commons