Pass A L'Outre Light

Sept. 24, 2019

Pass A L'Outre Light, Birdfoot Delta, Louisiana

Built in 1852, abadoned when the channel silted up.


Location: Head of Passes, Mississippi River Delta 
Station Established: 1855 
Year Current / Last Tower(s) First Lit: 1855 
Operational: No 
Automated: No 
Deactivated: 1930 
Foundation Materials: Stone; timber pile 
Construction Materials: Cast iron with brick lining 
Tower Shape: Conical 
Markings/Pattern: Black / white spirals with dark lantern
Characteristic: Fixed red (1902) 
Relationship to Other Structure: Separate 
Original Lens: Third Order, Fresnel, 1855
Fog Signal: Steam-powered signal, 1872

Historical Information:

  • 1852: Originally built to replace the lighthouse at Franks Island, which was discontinued when the Northeast Pass shoaled up.  As a cost-saving measure the iron Head of Passes light tower was dismantled and rebuilt at Pass A L'Outre. 
  • 1855: The lighthouse was reported to be ready for lighting on 16 December 1855.  The first keeper was John Lory, the former keeper of the Frank's Island light. 
  • During the Civil War, the Union Navy took the lens and other lighthouse materials where they eventually reached New Orleans after the fall of that city.  The Confederates burned the keeper's quarters. 
  • The light was relit on 20 April 1863 after conversion to a characteristic of "fixed varied by flashes".  The machinery was mounted on the gallery, since the interior lantern deck would not hold the weight.  A new keeper's quarters was also constructed at the station.  Coal tar was applied to the tower's exterior to prevent rust.  In 1866 the Annual Report to the Lighthouse Board noted: "Coast tar applied in winter of 1862 is still glossy and brilliant.  Recommend this treatment for other iron lighthouses." 
  • 1868: Reports noted that the lighthouse was slowly sinking into the Mississippi mud.  "The settling is uniform, so no structural damage is expected."  The Light List noted that it was "on north side of entrance of pass, on middle ground island." The characteristic was "fixed varied by flashes" but no interval was given.   
  • 1872: A steam-powered fog signal was constructed in 1871 and installed in 1872. 
  • 1902: The characteristic was changed to fixed red on 1 February 1902. 
  • 1917: The station sustained considerable damage in the hurricane of 28 September 1917.  Assistant Keeper Steven Coludrovich maintained the light in the absence of the keeper during the storm. 
  • 1919: Black and white spiral bands were added. 
  • 1920: Used by the Navy as a radio station. 
  • During Prohibition the tower was used by the Coast Guard as a lookout station. 
  • 1930: The station was discontinued "as vessels no longer used this pass." 
  • 1951: The Light List has the tower listed as a daymark. 
  • The land is now owned by the State of Louisiana and is now part of the Pass A L'Outre Wildlife Management Area.  The rusty tower survives but continues to sink into the mud.


  • John Lory – (1856 - unknown)
  • C. Woltze – (1863 - unknown)
  • James Broe – (1876 – unknown)

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