Ship Shoal Light

Oct. 15, 2019

Ship Shoal Light, Gulf of Mexico, southwest of the Isles Dernieres, off the coast of Louisiana

Screwpile style lighthouse built in 1859.


Station Established: 1859 
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1859 
Operational? NO 
Automated? YES 1950 
Deactivated: 1972 
Foundation Materials: SCREW PILE W/PLATFORM 
Construction Materials: CAST IRON 
Markings/Pattern: BROWN 
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL 
Original Lens: SECOND ORDER 

Historical Information:

  • 1848 – Lightship Pleasonton stationed at Ship Shoal.
  • 1852 – The provisional Lighthouse Board asked Congress for $20,000 for a first-class iron skeleton tower.
  • 1856 – Congress appropriated an additional $39,000 for the lighthouse. In all, a total of $103,000 would eventually be spent to erect this lighthouse.
  • 1858 – The lighthouse was assembled at a foundry in Philadelphia. It took an additional 2 years to assemble the structure on site at Ship Shoal.
  • 1861 – Confederates removed the lens, apparatus and lantern glass. The materials were taken inland to Berwick City. Sometime later they were moved further inland to St. Martinsville.
  • 1864 – The Union forces ordered a news lens from France so that the lighthouse could be operational once again.
  • 1865 – Union forces seized the city of St. Martinsville and liberated the original lens and other lighthouse property.
  • 1866 – Lighthouse Board noticed that keepers were becoming seriously ill at this location. The illness was determined to be lead poisoning. The cause was attributed to the lead paint on the roof washing into the cisterns. The lead paint was removed from the lighthouse and coal tar applied instead to protect the structure from rust.
  • 1867 – A severe hurricane eroded the sea floor under the lighthouse causing it to lean several degrees to the north-east. 
  • 1873 – Rip-rap which had been placed around the lighthouse foundation for protection was carried away by wave action.
  • 1896 – Granite blocks were placed around the lighthouse.
  • 1929 – The lighthouse was automated. The lighthouse was now 20 degrees off perpendicular.
  • 1965 – The lighthouse was discontinued.


  • Charles J. Lottman (circa 1864).

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