New Canal Lighthouse

Sept. 24, 2019

New Canal Lighthouse, New Orleans, Louisiana

Established in 1838, current structure built in 1890.


Location: Lake Pontchartrain Canal Entrance 
Station Established: 1838 
Year Current / Last Tower(s) First Lit: 1901 
Operational: No (damaged by Hurricane Katrina) 
Automated: Yes 
Deactivated: n/a 
Foundation Materials: Pile with platform 
Construction Materials: Wood 
Tower Shape: Square 
Markings/Pattern: White with red roof
Characteristic: Occulting white light, duration 3 seconds every 5 seconds. 
Relationship to Other Structure: Integral 
Original Lens: Fifth Order
Fog Signal: Mechanical fog bell; one stroke every ten seconds.

Historical Information:

  • 1837: Congressional appropriation for "beacons and lighthouses at the entrance of the harbor recently constructed on Lake Pontchartrain, and the canal above New Orleans"; total appropriation was $25,000. 
  • 1838: Site acquired on 21 May 1838 by "transfer and relinquishment," 3,690 square feet.  Property reverted to the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company on 31 July 1900. 
  • Francis D. Gott was awarded the contract to build a light at New Canal as well as Port Pontchartrain and Pass Manchac.  The contract for the New Canal light, for a total of $4,500, was signed on 31 July 1838. 
  • The light was built on a foundation of sheet piles extending to two feet above the lake surface, filled in with shells.  Cypress octagonal tower, extending 30 feet above the water and 28 feet above the base.  Twenty-four foot diameter at the base, tapering to 9 feet at top.  Eighteen lights with 9x11 glass.  Brick dwelling 34x20 feet. 
  • 26 February 1839: Thomas Beattie was nominated as keeper at a salary of $600 per year with an assistant keeper also authorized. 
  • 1846: Elizabeth Beattie was nominated as keeper to replace her husband who died.  She was appointed keeper in 1847.  Numerous women were appointed keeper of the New Canal light over the years, and all were the wives of a keeper who died while serving.  These included Jane O'Driscoll, Mary F. Campbell, and Maggie Norvell. 
  • 1854: Act of August 3, 1854 authorized $6,000 for rebuilding light station.  Since the mid-1840s there were complaints about the structure and foundation piles, which rotted and caused the structure to cant.  All of the lights on Lake Pontchartrain were described as "wholly worthless."  The lights were repaired and stabilized later that year. 
  • 1855: A new light was built and placed in operation.  This light was a square wood dwelling on screw-piles holding an iron lantern and Fifth Order lens atop a hipped roof. 
  • Confederates kept the light in operation until the fall of New Orleans to Union forces in 1862.  The light was relit by the end of September, 1862 and the light's pre-war keeper, William A. Waldo, was reappointed. 
  • 1890: Light was discontinued on 25 February 1890 and lens lantern was displayed from a pole.  The dwelling was sold at auction on 26 February and was removed.  A new light was built.  It was a square, two-story white frame structure with a slate roof and displayed a Fifth Order lens.  The focal plane was heightened from the previous tower to 49 feet above the lake.  It was lighted for the first time on 2 June 1890. 
  • 1899: A fog bell was installed, "struck by machinery." 
  • 1900-1901: Station was again repaired and rebuilt. 
  • 1903: After the 1903 "Cheniere Caminada" storm, the New Canal lighthouse was the only building left standing in the area.  More than 200 survivors found refuge at the station.
  • 1910: Station was moved to its present location across from a yacht club. 
  • 1915: On 28-29 September 1915 a hurricane hit the area.  The keeper, Caroline Biddle, was commended by the Department because she "stuck to her post the night of the great hurricane which passed over New Orleans.  She as alone and maintained the light by securing the lens and hanging a lantern in the tower, although the storm did great damage around the station." 
  • The station was damaged by hurricanes in 1926 and again in 1927.  The light was raised on new concrete piers. 
  • 1936: The breakwater around the station was filled in, placing the light on dry land for the first time. 
  • By the 1960s a SAR detachment was added to the light station and it was renamed "Coast Guard Station New Canal." 
  • 1985: The New Canal Lighthouse was placed on the National register of Historic Places on December 30, 1985. 
  • By 1986 the station was billeted for 21 persons with a BMC as Officer-in-Charge.  SAR cases were handled by a 41-foot UTB and an 18-foot Boston Whaler. 
  • 1987: On October 1, 1987, the Patrol Boats Division of Group New Orleans at the Base on the Industrial Canal and Station New Canal were combined and established as US Coast Guard Station New Orleans at the New Canal site. 
  • 2001: On 14 November 2001 USCG Station New Orleans moved to a brand new facility in Bucktown. 
  • 2005: Hurricane Katrina destroyed the lighthouse. 
  • 2006: Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation signs lease for the New Canal Lighthouse to rebuild the facility.
  • 2012: Construction of replica of 1890 lighthouse begins.
  • 2013: New Canal Lighthouse rebuilt and opened by Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to the public with a museum, gift shop, and education center.


  • Thomas Beattie (1839-1847)
  • Elizabeth Beattie (1847-unknown)
  • Mr. O'Driscoll (unknown-1850)
  • Jane O'Driscoll (1850-unknown)
  • Israel Brull (C. 1855)
  • William A. Waldo (C. 1860s)
  • Mr. Campbell (unknown-1870)
  • Mary F. Campbell (1870-1895)
  • Caroline Riddle (1895-1924)
  • Margaret Norvell (1924-1932) 

Keeper information researched and written by Marie Vincent, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.