Fort Sumter Range Lights

Aug. 6, 2019

Fort Sumter Range Lights, Charleston, South Carolina


Location: Fort Sumter (front light); Charleston (rear light)
Station Established: 1855
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1855
Operational: No 
Automated: 1950
Deactivated: ?
Height: 51'
Tower Shape: Hexagonal tower originally, after 1893 it was a steel skeleton framework (front); pyramidal church steeple (rear).
Markings/Pattern: White with light green skeleton fog-bell tower and light green frame dwelling.
Characteristic: Fixed white
Fog Signal: Yes; bell struck by machinery a double blow every 15 seconds.

Historical Information:

  • Established in 1855.
  • The front range light was a white framework structure placed on Fort Sumter's wall.  It was 51 feet above the high water line.  It was a 5th order fixed white light. The rear light was placed in the steeple of St. Philip's Church in the heart of Charleston and was a fixed white light 140 feet in height.
  • The range line marked by these lights [Fort Sumter (front) & St. Philip's Church (rear)] guided from the Charleston Light Vessel through the Main Channel dredged between the stone jetties constructed for the improvement of Charleston Harbor.
  • Rebuilt in 1866.
  • Front range light was destroyed during 1893 hurricane and rebuilt.
  • Rear light in church steeple was deactivated in 1915.  Front light remained in service.
  • Station was disestablished in 1950 after the National Park Service requested that the Coast Guard remove the radio beacon at Fort Sumter so they could erect a new monument.  The radio beacon was moved to Sullivan's Island Lifeboat Station
  • At some point in the next few years the light was extinguished and was replaced by daymarkers.