Bodkin Island Lighthouse

Nov. 5, 2019

Bodkin Island Light (Bodkin Point Light), Bodkin Island, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland


Name of Lighthouse: Bodkin Island / Bodkin Point
Location: Bodkin Island off Bodkin Point, southern side of the entrance to the Patapsco River
Date Built: 1823
Type of Structure: Conical stone tower
Height: 35'
Foghorn: No
Builder: Thomas Evans and William Coppeck
Appropriation: $5,200
Status: No longer standing

Historical Information:

  • In 1819 an act of Congress approved funding to place buoys in the Patapsco River and build lights at Bodkin Point, North Point, and Sparrows Point to aid shipping traffic to Baltimore. A survey of possible sites was made and a certain amount of trouble encountered gaining title to the land. Six acres of Bodkin Island, were eventually purchased for $600. Bids were solicited and the contract was awarded to Thomas Evans and William Coppeck under the charge of U. S. Naval Officer William Barney. Problems with both the contractors ability and character were encountered during the construction. However, it appears that the 35' stone tower and small, one-story, keepers dwelling were completed by Evans and Coppeck in October of 1821. Thirteen lamps were procured from Winslow Lewis and installed shortly thereafter. The light commissioned in January 1822.John Donahoo of Havre de Grace, MD, worked on a bulkhead at the light and may have made later repairs to the structures, both of which had poor foundations.
  • In 1851 the station was one of many lights castigated in a Congressional audit of aids to navigation. The auditors found the light maintained by a blacksmith and his family who kept it in filthy, sooty condition.
  • In 1856 the completion of Seven Foot Knolls Light obviated the need for the Bodkin Island Light and the station was decommissioned. The keepers dwelling was inhabited by a fisherman for some time and later abandoned. In 1914 the tower collapsed. Since that then the 20+ acre island has been reclaimed by the bay.

Researched and written  by Matthew B. Jenkins, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society.