White Shoal Lighthouse (VA)

Oct. 22, 2019

White Shoal Lighthouse, James River, near Newport News, Virginia

Screwpile style lighthouse built in 1855.


Lighthouse Name: White Shoal Lighthouse
Location: James River, Sandy Point near Newport News.
Station Established: 1854
Year Original Tower Lit: 1855
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1934
Operational? No
Automated? N/A
Deactivated: 1934
Foundation Materials: Iron
Construction Materials:
Tower Shape: Hexagonal screw-pile
Markings/Pattern: White Hexagonal screw-pile, red roof and foundation
Relationship to Other Structure: Integral
Original Lens: Fifth Order Fresnel

Historical Information:

  • White Shoal Lighthouse was one of three screw-piles lit on February 6, 1855 on the James River. It replaced a day beacon that had been constructed in 1854.
  • By 1869 the poorly constructed structure was leaning to one side and deemed unsafe.
  • In 1871 the structure was completely rebuilt and a fog bell and fifth order lens were added.
  • The lighthouse was deactivated in 1934. An automated light was built near the original location.
  • In the 1970’s ice flows carried the structure away. Though it was deemed unsafe 100 years before, it out lasted all other lighthouses on the James River.

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