Maryland Lighthouses
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DESTINATION MARYLAND The Official Guide To Maryland State Travel
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Maryland Lighthouses 

Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace 

The “Light” Side of Maryland
 

Who would have guessed that structures once used to guide sailors are now among the most popular tourist attractions in the world? But sure enough, lighthouses – those structures that were originally erected to save the lives of people who worked on the water – are now finding new life themselves as historic sites and museums.

The first Maryland lighthouse was built in 1822 and the last was constructed in 1910. Although the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay was once home to 44 lighthouses, now only about 25 remain. Of those, about half can be seen or visited by the public.

photo of a white light houseThe earliest and simplest of Maryland’s lighthouses were the stone towers, which were accompanied by a keeper’s residence next door. Several times throughout the night, the keeper would awaken to check the light in the neighboring tower. Maryland examples of this type of structure include the Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace, which is open for tours on weekends in warm months; the Turkey Point Lighthouse at Elk Neck State Park in the Eastern Shore village of North East, which is not open to the public but which is visibly accessible via footpath through the park; and the Piney Point Lighthouse in Southern Maryland, which cannot be entered but which is fully explained in a museum building next door.

In the 1870s, lighthouse engineers flirted with the notion of building a wooden tower rather than a stone one. One example of this structure, the light at Fort Washington, is visible after a short walk through Fort Washington Park, but it is no longer open to the public. In the 1950s, however, it was a popular spot that actually sold hot dogs and sodas.

Although a tower is the most recognized kind of lighthouse throughout the country, a true symbol of life on the Chesapeake Bay is the screwpile lighthouse, which is essentially a quaint cottage on stilts built right in the water. The Drum Point Lighthouse is now part of the exhibits at the Calvert Marine Museum in the Southern Maryland village of Solomons, the Hooper Strait Lighthouse is among the most popular attractions at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore, and the Seven-Foot Knoll Lighthouse is part of the collection of the Baltimore Maritime Museum. All three of these are open for tours, and visitors are amazed at the stories of life in these structures, which were home not only to lightkeepers, but also to their spouses, many children and livestock. The fourth, Thomas Point Lighthouse, continues to stand in its original position. Although the public cannot go into this house, it is visible on boat tours that leave from Annapolis and Tilghman Island.

 
Sandy Point ShoalThe caisson-style lighthouse was introduced to the Chesapeake Bay in the 1870s. It was more expensive than other models and took more time to build, but it was considered a more sound water-based structure than its screwpile predecessor. Its cylindrical base was sunk into the mud and filled with concrete, and the house was built on top. These lighthouses were among the smallest on the bay and were crafted like the popular Victorian townhouses of the day – only in miniature. Two examples of this structure, Baltimore Light and Sandy Point Shoal, are visible from Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis.

Point Lookout lighthouse
A much less common structure on the bay was the rooftop lantern lighthouse. An actual house with an intensive light mounted on its roof sat on shore and beckoned to passing ships. An example of this kind of lighthouse is Point Lookout, which is now secured behind a fence at Point Lookout State Park. Although the lighthouse is only open during special events, visitors continue to flock to the park to see it. Many believe that ghosts of the Confederate soldiers who were imprisoned here during the Civil War haunt the lighthouse today.

 

A Sampling of Maryland’s Lighthouses
open to or visible to the public

 CENTRAL MARYLAND

Baltimore Light
Sandy Point State Park
1100 College Parkway
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-974-2149
http://baltimorelight.org
Built in 1908, caisson.
Visible from the shore of the park on a clear day.

Concord Point
Lafayette and Concord streets
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
410-939-9040
Built in 1827, stone tower.
Open for tours on weekends, April through October.
http://concordpointlighthouse.org/

Sandy Point Shoal
Sandy Point State Park
1100 College Parkway
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-974-2149 
http://www.sandypointlighthouse.org/  
Built in 1883, caisson.
Visible from the shore of the park and from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Seven-Foot Knoll
Baltimore Maritime Museum
Piers 3 and 5, Inner Harbor
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-396-3453
http://historicships.org/
Built in 1875, iron screwpile.
Operated as part of museum exhibits; open during museum hours.

Thomas Point Shoal
Mouth of the South River
Annapolis, MD 21403
410-280-0445 
http://thomaspointlighthouse.org/
Built in 1875, screwpile.
Visible on public boat tours departing from Annapolis.

EASTERN SHORE

Choptank River Lighthouse
Long Wharf Park High and Water Streets
Cambridge, MD
410.228.4031
http://www.choosecambridge.com
Open daily, May 1 through October, 9am-6pm.
The Choptank River Lighthouse is open for free, self-guided tours by appointment from November through April.
To make an appointment, call 410.228.4031.


Hooper Strait LighthouseHooper Strait

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Mill Street at Navy Pier
St. Michaels, MD 21663
410-745-2916
http://cbmm.org
Built in 1879, wooden screwpile.
Operated as part of museum exhibits; open during museum hours. Through fun interactive activities, visitors may experience the rustic life of a lighthouse keeper by participating in the museum’s Lighthouse Overnight Program. It may be the most interesting place you ever slept! - See more.

Turkey Point
Elk Neck State Park
4395 Turkey Point Road
North East, MD 21901
410-287-5333
http://www.tpls.org/
Built in 1833, stone tower.
Visible after a brief hike through the park; seen during park hours.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND

cottage and light houseThe Cove Point Lighthouse is a beautifully restored and repurposed active lighthouse and keeper's home that sits on a seven acre point of land in one of the narrowest parts of the Chesapeake Bay. The gorgeous keeper's house can be rented as a vacation home or for your next special event or wedding. The grounds are also open to the public during the summer months to enjoy a view of the Calvert Cliffs, explore the base of the lighthouse tower, and learn about the history of the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. http://calvertmarinemuseum.com/http://calvertmarinemuseum.com/


Drum Point
Calvert Marine Museum
14200 Solomons Island Road
Solomons, MD 20688
410-326-2042
http://calvertmarinemuseum.com
Built in 1883, wooden screwpile.
Operated as part of museum exhibits; open during museum hours.

Piney Point
Piney Point Lighthouse Museum
44701 Lighthouse Road
Piney Point, MD 20674
301-769-2222
http://stmarysmd.com/recreate/museums
Built in 1836, stone tower.
Not open to the public, but accompanying museum is.

Point Lookout
Point Lookout State Park
Route 5
Scotland, MD 20687
301-872-5688
http://ptlookoutlighthouse.com/
Built in 1830 and enlarged in 1880s, house with lantern. 
The place is steeped in history, paranormal and otherwise.
Only open for special events, but visible through a fence during park hours.

CAPITAL REGION

Fort Washington

Fort Washington Park
13551 Fort Washington Road
Fort Washington, MD 20744
301-763-4600
http://nps.gov/fowa
Built in 1882, frame tower.
Visible after a brief hike through the park; can be seen during park hours.

 

 
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