Digest>Archives> May/Jun 2022

Lost Lighthouses


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Great Shoals Lighthouse. (Lighthouse Digest ...

Great Shoals Lighthouse
Established in 1884 at the entrance to the Wicomico River in the Chesapeake Bay near Wellington, Maryland, this screw-pile-style lighthouse housed a 5th order Fresnel lens. Under the U.S. Lighthouse Service the lighthouse was staffed by a head keeper and an assistant keeper. In 1939 when the Coast Guard took over, three Coastguardsmen were assigned to the station. In 1951, Vernon Cooper, a young 19-year-old Coastguardsman, was stationed at the light with two other men. They worked a rotating shift of 21-straight days on duty and then one week off. While on one of his weeklong days off, Vernon Cooper met Juanita Bozman and the couple fell in love. Juanita knew something about lighthouses from her grandfather, Calvin H. Bozman, an old time U.S. Lighthouse Service keeper, who had served at Holland Island Bar Lighthouse, Hooper Strait Lighthouse, and Sharkfin Shoal Lighthouse, which were all screw-pile lighthouse structures like the Great Shoals Lighthouse, and were also in Maryland. Somehow or another, Vernon Cooper, against standing orders, talked the other two Coast Guard keepers into taking a week off so that he and Juanita could have a weeklong honeymoon at the lighthouse. He was lucky that he was not visited for a Coast Guard inspection. Had he been, all three men could have faced serious charges. Vernon Cooper went on to serve twenty years in the U.S. Coast Guard and he and Juanita’s honeymoon story was not made public until many years later. Juanita died in 2004 and Vernon died at the age of 81 in 2011. Great Shoals Lighthouse was deactivated in 1966 and demolished shortly thereafter.

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Back view of South Carolina’s Bulls Bay ...

Bulls Bay Lighthouse
Located on the north end of Bull Island, 25 miles northeast of Charleston, South Carolina’s Bulls Bay Lighthouse was established in 1852.

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South Carolina’s Bulls Bay Lighthouse was also ...

As was typical of many southern lighthouses, Bulls Bay Lighthouse suffered at the hands of war. In 1862, Confederate forces built a small defensive encampment about fifty yards from the lighthouse and proceeded to wreck the lens, the lantern and other equipment.

In April of 1862, Union Naval forces bombarded the encampment, destroying it. Although the Union Naval operation was a success, according to historian Seldon B. Hill of the Village Museum at McClellanville, it was “too late to prevent them (the Confederates) from escaping to the mainland from the opposite side of the island in boats.” In their escape, they stopped long enough to set fire to the house of former Bulls Bay Lighthouse keeper W. H. Whilden, who was a Union sympathizer.

Upon examination of the light station, U.S. Navy officer S.F. Dupont reported that the lighting apparatus had been destroyed by the Confederates and “everything recklessly broken, down to the oil cans, etc.”

According to Seldon B. Hill, “during the remainder of the war. the structure remained an important landmark for ships of the Union blockading fleet, which often utilized it as a rendezvous point along this remote and often hostile stretch of coast.”

At the conclusion of the Civil War, the lighthouse was relighted. However, the lighthouse was plagued by erosion problems, and, in 1897, the structure was washed away.

In 1900, the structure that had been lost to erosion in 1897 was replaced by metal pyramidal skeletal tower with a separate new keeper’s house. It had a relatively short life. It was discontinued in 1913 and sold at public auction on March 14, 1914. Nothing remains at the site today.

This story appeared in the May/Jun 2022 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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