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Drum Point Light

July 23, 2019
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Drum Point Light, Drum Point, Patuxent River, Maryland

Established 1883, screwpile style light.  The screwpile light is longer in service, replaced with a modern optic, and is currently on display at the Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons, Maryland.

DRUM POINT LIGHT

Location:  Originally at the northern mouth of the Patuxent River.  Moved in 1973 to the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, MD.
Date Built:  Commissioned 1883
Type of Structure:  1 ½ story hexagonal screw-pile cottage
Height:  46 feet
Characteristics:  Inactive
Foghorn:  Yes - Bell
Appropriation:  $25,000
Range:  12 miles
Status:  Standing, but moved to a museum setting

Historical Information:   

  • Efforts to build a lighthouse at this point began in the 1850s.  Jurisdiction over the site was gained in 1853 and a Congressional appropriation of $5,000 was granted in 1854.  However, issues arose regarding title to the site and the plans were dropped.
  • In August of 1882 Congress authorized $25,000 for set of range lights for the river, apparently without consulting with the Lighthouse Board.  Given that the amount was insufficient and range lights not needed, a single screw-pile light was decided upon instead.  The light was commissioned August 20, 1883 and exhibited a fourth order Fresnel lens with prisms covering only the 270 degrees needed for visibility from the water.
  • Built not far from shore, the light originally stood in ten feet of water.  In contrast to many other lights that have suffered from erosion, steady silting over the years slowly brought the shore out to this light.  Around the turn of the century it was possible to build a bridge from the shore to the light.  This enabled the keeper to move his family in with him (something normally not allowed in off-shore lights at that time).  By the 1970s, the shoreline had enveloped the light.
  • The light weathered the years fairly well.  Some damage was suffered from storm of 1933, which flooded the light and sank its tender.
  • In 1944 the light was electrified.
  • In 1960 the light was automated.
  • In1962 the light was discontinued, its function handled by a lighted buoy.  Neglect and vandalism, including several fires, caused considerable damage over the next decade and a half.
  • In 1974 the Calvert Historical Society was given the light, but not the site on which it stood.  The following year, with the help of the B.F. Diamond Construction Company (who was then building the new Route 4 bridge by Solomons) the solid iron pilings were cut and the light was moved by crane and barge to the grounds of the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, MD.  It has been completely restored and is open to the public.  More information is available at: www.calvertmarinemuseum.com  

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