New Point Comfort Lighthouse

Sept. 24, 2019

New Point Comfort Lighthouse, Chesapeake Bay, Port Haywood, Virginia

Established in 1805.


Lighthouse Name: New Point Comfort
Location: near northern entrance to Mobjack Bay on Virginia’s western shore
Date Built: 1804
Type of Structure: octagonal sandstone tower with separate frame dwelling
Height: 58 ft.
Characteristics: fixed white light
Lens: Original lens –octagon cylinder with multiple lamps. Fourth order Fresnel
Appropriation: $8,500
Automated: 1930
Range: 13 miles
Status: No longer active

Historical information:

  • New Point Comfort is the third oldest lighthouse built on the Chesapeake Bay. President Thomas Jefferson appointed Elzie Burroughs, who built the lighthouse, as its first keeper.
  • In 1855 a fixed fourth order Fresnel was installed.
  • The Confederates put the lighthouse out of commission during the Civil War to disrupt Union shipping on the Chesapeake Bay.
  • After the war extensive repairs were made and the light was relit in 1865.
  • In 1919 the lighthouse lamps were replaced with an automated acetylene gas fixture
  • Automated in 1930
  • Originally the lighthouse stood on a peninsula but a hurricane in 1933 struck and eroded away much of the land. Over time the land has eroded more and more until it stands on a small island. The keeper’s house no longer stands.
  • In 1950 the light was electrified and the characteristic was changed to a four second flash.
  • The tower was replaced by an offshore beacon with a 2 ½ second red flashing light in 1963 and the tower was abandoned.
  • The lighthouse was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972.
  • In 1975 the light was deeded to Mathews county
  • In 2001 a task force was formed by Mathews County in an effort to preserve the lighthouse.

The above was researched and drafted by Bill Simms, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.