Smith Point Light
Just South of the Entrance to the Potomac River, VA, cir. 1897
This is the fifth lighthouse built at Smith Point at the entrance to the Potomac. A shore-based tower had been built as early as 1802. However, its location made it ineffectual and both storms and erosion forced it to be moved and rebuilt twice before being abandoned. A number of light ships have been stationed there over the years, including after 1893 when an earlier, 1868 vintage, screwpile was destroyed by ice. The current, octagonal structure was built on a caisson from the same plans used by Wolf Trap lighthouse. It was commissioned in 1897. In the early 1970s the lighthouse was electrified via a sub-aquatic cable and fully automated. Later, when the cables failed, the Coast Guard considered demolition of the light. However, public outcry was strong and in 1988 the cable was replaced. The light was renovated. In 2005 it was put up for auction under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act and purchased by a private citizen, although the US Coast Guard still maintains the lamp as an active aid to navigation.
Type of Structure:
Caisson with octagonal brick dwelling / tower
Flashing white with red sector
Standing and Active