Thomas Point Shoal Light

Thomas Point Shoal lighthouse
Thomas Point Shoal lighthouse

Called “the finest example of a screw pile cottage anywhere in the world.” The first screw-pile lighthouse was built in 1938 at the mouth of Thames by a blind engineer. Afterwards they became popular, especially on Chesapeake Bay, where Thomas Point Shoal Light is standing, and North Carolina.

Why not a normal tower lighthouse? Because these areas are known for a soft ground and that’s when screw-piles became necessary. Next to that, they were relatively inexpensive and easy to build.  Usually the lighthouses would have a 1 ½ storey wooden cottage including a dorm and cupula light room.

However, the screw pile lighthouses have never been very resistant to ice and that’s probably why they are almost non-existent nowadays and caisson lighthouses have become way more popular. There are about 100 of these lighthouses that still remain in areas such as Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, along the Gulf of Mexico, in Long Island Sound and one even at Maumee Bay, constructed in 1855.

Since 1825, there has been a lighthouse at this spot in Chesapeake Bay. Only in 1873, the State granted an amount of 35,000$ to build a screw-pile lighthouse that would finally be resistant against erosion. Several times the lighthouse was disrupted by ice and the light broke. In 1877, they finally decided to create more piles to make it more resistant and replace the light. In 1964, it was the last remaining lighthouse in Chesapeake Bay and has only been automated in 1986. Nowadays it’s still standing and can be looked at by taking the lighthouse tour hosted by Watermark.

It’s been registered as historical national landmark and in the National register of historic places and is open to public three months a year.