view counter

Tour a Bay ­Lighthouse

From derelict ruins to still-active beacons, these fixtures of the water continue to light up the imagination

The Hooper Strait Lighthouse, is open to the public on the grounds of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s.

Chesapeake lighthouses have marked safe passage for sailors since the 1800s. Many stand still, reachable by land or water, and welcome your visit.
    Turkey Point Lighthouse, built in 1833 near the head of the Bay, is the tallest — at 35 feet — of the 74 Chesapeake lighthouses. Located in Elk Neck State Park, it was built by noted Bay lighthouse builder John Donohoo.
    Baltimore’s Inner Harbor claims the Seven Foot Knoll Light, 1855, originally built at the mouth of the Patapsco River. This screwpile light was moved by barge to the waterfront in 1988. It is open daily in summer.
    The Fort Carroll Light, 1854, was built on a man-made island in the middle of the Patapsco River, to protect the water approach to Baltimore. Privately owned and in a sad state of preservation, the light can be glimpsed to the south when driving east across the Francis Scott Key Bridge.
    The Baltimore Harbor Light, 1904, sits at the mouth of the Magothy River and the entrance to Baltimore Harbor. This was the last lighthouse built on Chesapeake Bay. It is visible at a distance looking north up the Bay from Sandy Point State Park.
    Sandy Point Shoal Light, 1883, described as “one of the prettiest caisson lighthouses built on the Bay” by Lighting the Bay author Pat Vojtech.
    The iconic Thomas Point Shoal Light, 1875, is the last screwpile structure on its original site in the Bay. Book a three-hour boat excursion to board the lighthouse through the Annapolis Maritime Museum. $70; rsvp: jeff@uslhs.org; 415-362-7255.
    The coffee-pot-shaped, cast-iron caisson Bloody Point Bar Light, 1882, stands off the southern tip of Kent Island. It started to lean shortly after it was lit in 1882, tipping five degrees. But workers pushed it back up and dumped 760 tons of rock around its base to keep it in place.
    Hooper Strait Lighthouse, 1880, a three-story, cottage-style house, has lived at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s since 1966. Daily tours with $15 museum admission: 410-745-2916; www.cbmm.org.
    Sharps Island Lighthouse, 1881-’82, sitting at a 15-degree angle and appearing to be Bloody Point Light’s twin, once marked one of the biggest islands in the Chesapeake Bay. That island has washed away, but Sharp’s Island Light, located off Black Walnut Point near the entrance of the Choptank River, is still standing.
     The Cove Point Lighthouse, 1828, north of Solomons Island, is still active, with occasional tours offered by Calvert Marine Museum. The keeper’s house is rented as a bed and breakfast: 410-326-2042; www.calvertmarinemuseum.org.
    The screwpile, cottage-style Drum Point Lighthouse, 1883, was built to mark the entrance to the Patuxent River but has since relocated to Calvert Marine Museum. $9 admission gains you full access to this entirely restored treasure: 410-326-2042; www.calvertmarinemuseum.org.
    Point Lookout Lighthouse, 1883, stands at the end of St. Mary’s County where the Potomac River meets the Bay. The diminutive white house with red roof and black lantern is closed to the public but can be viewed through a high, chain-link fence.
    A squat conical tower, Piney Point Lighthouse was built in 1836 and is now part of the St. Clement’s Island Museum. $7 admission: 301-994-1471; www.co.saint-marys.md.us/
recreate/museums.
    Calvert Marine Museum offers boat tours of six lighthouses with stops for lunch and sightseeing. June 20 and July 25, tour Northern Lighthouses: Cove Point, Thomas Point, Shady Point, Bloody Point, Sharps Island, and Drum Point Lighthouses. The tour goes south July 11 and Aug. 8 to Point No Point, Point Lookout, Smith Point, Solomons Lump, Hooper Island and Drum Point Lighthouses. $130: rsvp: 410-326-2042 x41.