Jun 15

Lighthouses of Virginia

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 12:01 AM

By

Anyone who has grown up or vacationed on a coast has visited and climbed a lighthouse. As a child, my family toured one, where we discovered my fear of heights.

The Naval Institute has a unique photo collection of lighthouses, organized by state. To share this collection with the public, we will begin with the lighthouses of Virginia.

Cape Henry, Old & New

Cape Henry, Old & New

In 1792 John McCombe Jr. built the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse from stone. It is the oldest lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay, and served the area for nearly a century before it was deemed unsafe and a new lighthouse was commissioned. The structure remains and after repairs made is now open to visitors.

The New Cape Henry Lighthouse, was built only a few hundred yards away from the Old Cape Henry lighthouse in 1881. Since 1984 its light has been unmanned, but the lighthouse continues to serve mariners on the bay.

Old Point Comfort

Old Point Comfort

Old Point Comfort was built in 1802 and stands directly in front of Fort Monroe at the entrance to Hampton Roads. The lighthouse had two keepers until 1973 when it became automated. It is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay.

Assateague

Assateague

Located on Assateague Island, less than a mile away from Chincoteague Island, the original Assateague lighthouse was built in 1830. After it fell into disrepair, a new one was built; it was completed in 1867. In 1933 electricity replaced candlelight. The Assateague lighthouse continues operations to this day.

Maryland Point

Maryland Point

Maryland Point lighthouse was completed in 1892 and sat off Maryland Point in the Potomac River, east of Fairview Beach. The light was automated in 1954, but the unique lighthouse was dismantled in 1963.

Cape Charles

Cape Charles

The current lighthouse on Smith Island is the third lighthouse to sit there and was completed in 1895. During World War II the lighthouse aided in the search for German U-boats off the coast. Cape Charles was automated in 1963 and continues to serve the coast.