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Chesapeake Lighthouses

Updated on September 11, 2014

Three Styles on Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay has three different types of lighthouses. In this lens you will see examples of all three types. The first type is a detached conical tower. This type of lighthouse usually has a keepers house nearby. The lighthouse at Cove Point is a good example of this traditional type of lighthouse.

A second lighthouse that is also seen in the bay area is a dwelling with a lantern-type cupola on the top of it. If you drive to the end of Point Lookout state park you will find this type of lighthouse.

The third type of lighthouse is a screw-type lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in Chesapeake bay because the traditional lighthouses were hard to construct on the sandy and muddy bottom of the bay. In a screw-type lighthouse iron pilings are constructed into a screw-pile foundation and anchored into the bay. A cottage and lantern room is then built on top of the foundation. The lighthouse at Drum Point is a good example of a screw-pile lighthouse.

all photos are my own-mbgphoto

Drum Point - Screw Pile Style

The lighthouse at Drum Point was built in 1863 and was originally 120 feet off shore of Drum Point. The keepers of the lighthouse would have a boat to take them to shore to get supplies. Over the years the shoals built up between the shore and eventually a foot bridge connected the lighthouse to the shore.

I was able to tour this screw-pile type lighthouse on our visit to the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland. The lighthouse was moved the 2 miles to Solomons in 1974 when it was acquired by the county of Calvert. After extensive renovation, it was opened as a historic site in 1975.

Today the public can tour the lighthouse and climb into the top. The stairs go up into the center of the lighthouse and the keepers rooms are arranged in circle around the stairs. Another set of steps brings you into the top of the lighthouse to the light room. I found the light very interesting. It is a 5th order fresnal lens and some of the windows around the light are tinted a red color. You can see more photos of this interesting lighthouse at my page on Wizzley atDrum Point Lighthouse.

Read More about these Historic Beacons

I always like to read about the history of lighthouses that I will visit. I think it adds a lot of interest to my visit.

Bay Beacons: Lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay
Bay Beacons: Lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay

Learn the history of the Chesapeake Bay lighthouses.


Point Lookout Lighthouse - Cupola Style

Point Lookout lighthouse was built in 1830 by John Donahoo. Donahoo, who was born in 1786 in Maryland built 12 of the Bay areas first 17 lighthouses. Of these lighthouses, seven still stand today. They are: Concord Point, Cove Point, Piney Point, Pooles Island, Turkey Point and Point Lookout.

Point lookout operated for 136 years from 1830- 1966. Lighthouse keeping was one of the first non-clerical jobs opened to American women. Point Lookout had its share of women lighthouse keepers starting in 1830 when the first keeper died after only 3 months on the job and his daughter took over his duties. She remained the keeper for the next 17 years.

Lighthouses are often isolated and out on points. These wind-swept buildings lend themselves to stories of ghosts and hauntings. Point Lookout has often been said to be haunted by a ghost of a past lighthouse keeper. When we were eating lunch at a nearby restaurant I overheard a woman talking about how the lighthouse was haunted and how she knew people who had been in the lighthouse and heard the ghosts.

Cove Point Lighthouse - Conical Style

This sign is near the entrance to Cove Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse is a conical tower with a detached keepers house. The keepers house is currently being renovated into two duplexes which will be available to rent for a week at a time starting sometime next year. I think it would be really cool to spend a week at the lighthouse keepers house.

Cove Point lighthouse was erected to guide ships through the narrowest parts of Chesapeake Bay and into the Patuxent River.

I had trouble getting a good photo of this lighthouse. It was near where we were staying so we returned several times. The first time it was closed and with a large fence around it I couldn't get close enough for a good shot. The second time it was open but the lighting wasn't right. The third time was a charm, it was open and I was able to capture this image.

Check out These Great Buys

I have purchased several of the lighthouses in my collection off eBay and have always been pleased.

Sandy Point

near Chesapeake Bay Bridge

The Sandy Point Shoal lighthouse is located in the Chesapeake bay and can be seen from the Chesapeake Bay bridge. The lighthouse is a 3 story timber framed and masonary house that measures 24 square feet. The first floor contains a kitchen with a pantry and a living room with a fire place. On the 2nd floor you will find the bedrooms and if you continue up the spiral staircase to the 3rd floor you find the watch room which is divided into two rooms and is where the fog bell was originally housed. On top of the 3rd floor is the lantern room.

The lighthouse can only be reached by boat and as I looked at it from the beach of Sandy Point State park, I imagined that the lighthouse keeper would get pretty lonely out there in the middle of the bay.

Maryland has some interesting types of lighthouses. Do you prefer the traditional conical lighthouse, the cupola type or do you like the screw-pile type of structure?

Which lighthouse do you like best?

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    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

      I know I have been here before, but after DawnRae featuring this article on Review This, I simply had to return and read again. I do love all of your beautiful lighthouse photography!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 4 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      @DawnRae64: THank you Dawn I appreciate your support Love your mid-Atlantic niche

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 4 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I like them all! I also like this lens very much and am working on my Review This! blog entry. I am including a link for this in that blog. I love your lenses so much!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      I like Drum Point Lighthouse Reflection, that picture is so beautiful.... Thanks!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Drum Point looks especially interesting. I've never been to any of these lighthouses, but I enjoy visiting sites like those.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Looks like a wonderful place to visit! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • SayGuddaycom profile image

      SayGuddaycom 6 years ago


    • JohnMichael2 profile image

      JohnMichael2 6 years ago

      screwpile is one of the most unusual but very functional

    • northamerica profile image

      northamerica 6 years ago

      I think the screw-pile is by far the most iconic and beautiful style here. Choosing an individual favorite of the bay screw pile lighthouses would be hard though.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I like the Cove Point lighthouse the best. Chesapeake Bay is really a gorgeous area. Haven't been there since 2002 when we drove up the East Coast, through Norfolk, VA, and on up the Delmarva Peninsula to Delaware. I'll bet you enjoyed your trip.

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 6 years ago

      Unique lighthouses, must have been a great trip! :-)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I've never been to Chesapeake Bay or seen the Chesapeake Lighthouse but would sure love to see these. Your photos are so wonderful.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      So beautiful! Truly makes me wish I was there.