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Name: Overfalls Lightship (LV118, WAL 539)  

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Nearest Town or City:
Lewes, Delaware, United States

Location: Lewes Canal

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Photo: Delaware River & Bay LH Foundation
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Managing Organization:
Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation, Inc.

Telephone: 302-644-8050


Contact Address Information:
P.O. Box 413
Delaware, 19958, United States

LV 118 was built at the Rice Brothers Boatyard in East Boothbay, Maine in 1938. Power came from a 300 horsepower 12-foot long straight eight cylinder diesel engine by Cooper Bessemer that was later turbo-charged for a total of 400 hp. Like most American diesels of that era it was legendary for not starting; because of that and the huge volume of air it took to operate the starter, it was usually kept running. In its 38 years of operation the engine clock showed the equivalent of 14 years continuous operation. The ship also had three 3-cylinder GM diesel-powered generators and two very large Schramm air compressors. All ships hoists and capstans were air powered; there were no hydraulics. One of its most notable features was the second most powerful fog horn ever put on a lightship. The horn used so much air that the main engine couldn't be started while the horn was in use. LV118 served the Treasury Dept. until she and all other lightships were transferred to the Coast Guard and was redesignated WAL 539. The jump in numbers was due to the inclusion of all lighthouses with the ships. Before retiring to Lewes Delaware as the Overfalls, the ship served as the Cornfield, Cross Rip and Boston. In December of 1970 while at the Boston light station she was in a storm that dragged the ship a couple miles off station, damaging several hull plates and a couple of ribs. After a stay in dry dock she went out one more time then was decommissioned in 1972. In 1999 the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation was formed by a group of volunteers. As a result of uncountable volunteer hours, the ship is now open to the public with guided tours. (Thanks to Greg Liberace for this history.)

This light is not operational

Current Use: Museum.

Open To Public? Yes.

The lightship is open June, July & August, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The lightship is just on the other side of the ferry terminal from historic Cape Henlopen State Park.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

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