HomeBrowse by TopicAssetsLandAll

Mathias Point Light

Sept. 17, 2019

Mathias Point Light, Potomac River, near the Port Tobacco River, Maryland

Screwpile style lighthouse, hexagonal shape, built in 1876.


Name of Lighthouse:  Mathias Point Shoal
Location:  Potomac River opposite the mouth of the Port Tobacco River
Date Built:  1876
Type of Structure:  Hexagonal, three level, screw-pile
Foghorn:  Fog bell
Appropriation:  $40,000
Status:  No longer standing

Historical Information: 

  • In apparent surprise to the Lighthouse Board, a Congressional appropriation of $9,000 was received in June 1872 to construct a lighthouse in the Potomac River at Shipping Point by Quantico Creek.   An engineering survey determined that this was an inappropriate location and the money was returned with a request for a new appropriation for two lights to be built 24 miles down the river.  One was to be at a major and dangerous bend named Mathias Point and the second near by at Port Tobacco Flats.  An appropriation of $40,000 was received in 1874.  Initially a day marker tower was approved for Mathias Point and a light for Port Tobacco Flats.  However, construction was delayed for almost two years and during this time the sites were switched.  Construction commenced in September 1876 and, since screw-pile lights were pre-fabricated off site, the light went up quickly.  It was commissioned December 20, 1876 and exhibited a fifth order Fresnel lens.  The design of this lighthouse was unique among screw-piles on the Bay.  It had three levels and a great amount of detailed woodwork.
  • The light was automated in 1951 and was monitored by the keeper of Maryland Point Light.
  • In 1961 the light was decommissioned and dismantled.

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