Thomas Point Shoal Light

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Thomas Point Shoal Light
Thomas Point Lighthouse Chesapeake Bay.jpg
Thomas Point Shoal Light is located in Maryland
Thomas Point Shoal Light
Thomas Point Shoal Light is located in the United States
Thomas Point Shoal Light
Locationoff Thomas Point at the mouth of the South River in the Chesapeake Bay
Coordinates38°53′56″N 76°26′10″W / 38.899°N 76.436°W / 38.899; -76.436Coordinates: 38°53′56″N 76°26′10″W / 38.899°N 76.436°W / 38.899; -76.436
Year first constructed1875
Year first lit1875
Tower shapeSquare lantern on hexagonal house
Markings / patternWhite with red roof and black lantern
Focal height43 feet (13 m)
Original lensfourth-order Fresnel lens
Current lens9.8 inches (250 mm) solar-powered lens[clarification needed]
RangeWhite 16 nautical miles (30 km; 18 mi)
Red 11 nautical miles (20 km; 13 mi)
CharacteristicThomas Point Shoal Light Signal (Fl W 5s) Red Sector 11-51.5 and 96.5-202.gif
Flashing white 5 sec, with two red sectors
Fog signalHorn: 1 every 15 sec
Admiralty numberJ2204
ARLHS numberUSA-845
USCG number2-7760[1][2][3]
HeritageNational Historic Landmark, place listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata
Thomas Point Shoal Light Station
LocationKent Island, Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis, Maryland
Area5 acres (2.0 ha)
ArchitectU.S. Lighthouse Service
Architectural styleScrewpile design
NRHP reference #75000864[4]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 20, 1975[4]
Designated NHLJanuary 20, 1999[5]

The Thomas Point Shoal Light, also known as Thomas Point Shoal Light Station, is a historic lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay on the east coast of the United States, and the most recognized lighthouse in Maryland. It is the only screw-pile lighthouse in the bay which stands at its original site. The current structure is a 1½ story hexagonal wooden cottage, equipped with a foghorn as well as the light.[6]


A stone lighthouse was constructed in 1825 on shore at Thomas Point[1] by John Donahoo. It was replaced in 1838 by another stone tower. The point was subject to continuing erosion (which would eventually bring down the lighthouse on the point in 1894),[6] and in 1873 Congress appropriated $20,000 for the construction of a screw-pile structure. With an additional $15,000 appropriation in 1875, the light was built and activated in November of that year.[6]

Ice was a perpetual threat to screw-pile lights on the Chesapeake, and in 1877 the original lens was destroyed when it toppled by shaking from ice floes. This lens was replaced, and the additional piles and riprap were placed around the foundation in order to protect it. By 1964 it was the last manned light in the Chesapeake Bay, and it was not automated until 1986. It is currently the last unaltered screwpile cottage-type lighthouse on its original foundation in the Chesapeake Bay.


Concerns for its preservation brought it a National Register of Historic Places listing in 1975[4] and National Historic Landmark status in 1999.[5][7]

In 2004, ownership of the lighthouse passed to the city of Annapolis, Maryland, which now maintains the structure in conjunction with Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the Annapolis Maritime Museum, and the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society. The United States Coast Guard continues to maintain the navigational aids.

It is open to the public three months out of the year.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: Maryland". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.
  2. ^ Light List, Volume II, Atlantic Coast, Shrewsbury River, New Jersey to Little River, South Carolina (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2012. p. 74.
  3. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of the United States: Maryland". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  4. ^ a b c National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  5. ^ a b "Thomas Point Shoal Light Station". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
  6. ^ a b c "Thomas Point Shoal Light". Inventory of Historic Light Stations. National Park Service. December 27, 2005. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
  7. ^ Ralph Eshelman and Candace Clifford (January 1998). "National Historic Landmark Nomination: Thomas Point Shoal Light Station" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying two photos, exterior, from 1885 and 1990 (139 KB)
  8. ^ "Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse". Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-11-21.


External links[edit]