Cobb Point Bar Light

July 23, 2019

Cobb Point Bar Light (Cobb Island Bar Light), Potomac River, Maryland


Name of Lighthouse:  Cob Island Bar / Cob Point Bar
Location:  Potomac River marking the west side of the entrance of the Wicomico River
Date Built:  1889
Type of Structure:  Square screw-pile
Height:  40 feet above mean high water
Foghorn:  Fog bell
Appropriation:  $15,000
Status:  No longer standing

Historical Information: 

  • A number of new screw-pile lighthouses were built on the Potomac River during the final 25 years of the 19th century.  This was due both to increased shipping traffic and the an increased size and draft of the vessels traveling up and down the river.  At this time a number of steam ship lines operated on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.  These carried cargo and passengers on regularly scheduled routes, much as the airlines do today.   Three steamship lines in addition to numerous smaller vessels made regular stops up the Wicomico River which was known for having a narrow and tricky channel at its entrance.  Formal requests for a light at Cob Island Bar (a.k.a. Cob Point Bar) began in 1875 and the request was renewed in 1885 and again in 1887.  At that time Congress appropriated $15,000 for the light.  Construction of the square, screw-pile, light was delayed until November 1889.  The materials were gathered and the cottage was pre-fabricated at Lazaretto Depot using the same plans as the light at Tangier Sound in Virginia.  These were brought to the site in November and the light was erected in a little over a month.  It was commissioned on Christmas Day, December 25, 1889 and exhibited a fourth order Fresnel lens.
  • In 1939 the lighthouse caught fire and was so badly damaged that the remains had to be torn down.  It was replaced by a bell and automated light.

Researched and written by Matthew B. Jenkins, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society.