The U.S. Coast Guard has announced that it is proposing to discontinue the beacon at Maryland’s Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse because of structural concerns for Coast Guard personnel serving the lighthouse.
This once beautiful lighthouse, inside and out, was built in 1883 in the Upper Chesapeake Bay, and it was automated in 1963 and personnel were removed. However, this is one of those lighthouses where the government should have kept it staffed, if nothing else but for historical purposes.
In mid-June 1979, mindless criminal morons, who made their way out to the lighthouse by boat, broke off the exterior lock, climbed the tower, destroyed all the window panes in the lantern except one, and destroyed the priceless nineteenth century lens. Sadly, no one was ever apprehended or prosecuted.
Between 1988 and 1990, the Coast Guard made a number of repairs, including substituting the deteriorating tin cornices with historically accurate mahogany replacements. Water damage to the interior had ruined most of the woodwork and plaster. In 1995, the Coast Guard again did some work when a new copper roof was added, the lower gallery deck, rails, and landing ladder were repaired or replaced, and the lighthouse was repainted.
In a 2006 on-line auction, the government sold the lighthouse, reportedly to Vince Marks, for a whopping $250,000. It is unknown what his plans are to save the lighthouse, which now appears to be in a rapid state of deterioration. Recent photos show that scaffolding is set up around the lighthouse, but we don’t know how long it has been there and we have been unable to reach the owner for comment. However, the Coast Guard said that it will continue to work with the owner regarding the maintenance issues.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2018 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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