Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2016

How Solomons Lump Lost Its Status


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Vintage image of the complete Solomons Lump ...

Only the tower remains today at the remote Solomons Lump Lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay near Crisfield, Maryland. And because only the tower remains, the lighthouse now faces a dismal future.

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The Solomons Lump Lighthouse as it appears today.
Photo by: Jeannette O’Neal

Before the current tower was built, a screwpile cottage style lighthouse that sat on legs marked the location until it was destroyed by ice in the late 1890s. With no way to launch a boat, and other boats unable to launch a rescue in the ice, the keeper had to walk across the dangerous ice to reach the mainland and safety.

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Solomons Lump Lighthouse as it appeared when the ...

The destroyed lighthouse on legs was replaced by a new structure that was built upon a cylindrical foundation with the keeper’s quarters attached to the tower. The first floor of the keeper’s quarters contained a living room, kitchen, and pantry, with a door that led into the actual tower. Two bedrooms were located on the second floor.

In the winter of 1936, lighthouse keeper Henry C. Sterling faced the same dangers as did the keeper of the previous lighthouse structure. Fearing that the lighthouse would be toppled by ice, he was forced to flee the lighthouse on foot over the ice and walk the dangerous eight miles to the mainland.

In 1950 the lighthouse was automated, its keepers removed, and the lighthouse was boarded up. With no real care, the structure rapidly fell into a state of disrepair. By 1971 it was in such bad shape that the Coast Guard demolished the living quarters and everything else that was attached to the tower, which sealed the fate of the tower for any future protection.

In 1996 the Solomons Lump Lighthouse was rejected for inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places because, “the station’s integrity was compromised when the integral keeper’s quarters was demolished.”

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2016 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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