Holly, 1881

Jan. 31, 2021

Holly, 1881

A tree or shrub of the genus Ilex, often bearing bright-red berries and glossy evergreen leaves with spiny margins.

Builder: Malster & Reaney, Baltimore, Maryland

Length: 156'

Beam: 39' (over paddle wheel guards); 24' 2" (hull)

Draft: 9' 6"

Displacement: 499 tons

Cost: $37,500 (contract); $41,911 (actual)

Commissioned: 1 September 1881

Decommissioned: 1 August 1931

Disposition: Sold

Machinery: Marine condensing beam steam engine; return flue "lobster back" coal-fired boiler; side paddle wheels; 400 BHP

Performance & Endurance:


Deck Gear: 

Complement: 21

Armament: None

Tender History:

The Holly was one of two Holly-class side wheel bay and sound tenders that were built for service in the Chesapeake Bay region, the other being the Jessamine.  They had composite hulls, with wood frames and iron sheathing, and were built by Malster & Reaney of Baltimore, Maryland.  The Holly was commissioned on 1 September 1881.

She was first assigned to the 5th Lighthouse District and was based out of Baltimore and later Portsmouth for service as an inspection tender.  She also serviced aids to navigation in the Chesapeake Bay.  She served as a lightship on the Wolftrap Shoal station in 1893 and on the Bush Bluff station in 1894 and later saw service as a relief lightship.

She was restored to her configuration as a tender in 1898.  She was laid up in 1921 due to a lack of funds but was put back into service later that decade.  She was decommissioned on 1 August 1931 and was sold for $691 on 4 December of that same year.  Sometime later her owners removed her engine and converted her for use as the barge Wright No. 1.  She was "discarded" in 1944.


Douglas Peterson.  United States Lighthouse Service Tenders, 1840-1939. Annapolis: Eastwind Publishing, 2000.