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Baltimore Light Station

  • Also Known As: AA-945

  • Address: Gibson Island
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Structure

This is one of the last lighthouses built on the Chesapeake Bay. The fact that it was built at all is a testimony to the importance of Baltimore as a commercial port. The original appropriation request to Congress for a light at this location was made in 1890 and $60000 was approved four years later. However, bottom tests of proposed sites showed a 55 foot layer of semi-fluid mud before a sand bottom was hit. This extreme engineering challenge made construction of a light within the proposed cost impossible. An additional $60,000 was requested and finally appropriated in 1902. Even then, the project had to be re-bid because no contractor came forth within the allotted budget. Finally, the contract was awarded to William H Flaherty (who had built the Solomon's Lump and Smith Point lights). The materials were gathered and partially assembled at Lazaretto Point Depot, then towed to the site and lowered to the bottom in September 1902. As excavation progressed, heavy seas tilted the cylinder. Later on October 12th, a storm pushed it over so it lay on its side. At this point, the contractor ceased work. Instead of returning the following Spring, as planned, Flaherty defaulted and his company later went into receivership. The resulting legal problems further complicated the situation. It was not until the fall of 1905 that construction resumed under the guidance of the surety company - US Fidelity and Guaranty Co. A pier was built around the sunken caisson to hold worker housing, and the huge amount of machinery needed to right the structure. By that time, many of the iron caisson plates were severely damaged and needed to be replaced. By 1907 the cylinder had been righted and work progressed. When completed, the caisson stood 82 feet below sea level, on top of 91 piles driven into the bottom. It was the tallest caisson light in the world at the time. The brick dwelling - light tower was constructed the following year and the light was outfitted with a fourth order Fresnel lens and commissioned October 1, 1908. - US Coast Gaurd



Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Flaherty, William H. Architect

Data »

Particulars for Baltimore Light Station:
Area of Significance Architecture
Criteria Architecture-Engineering
Owner Federal
Criteria Historic Event
Level of Significance Local
Area of Significance Maritime
Sight Category Structure
Area of Significance Transportation
Historic Use Water-related

US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration: 2nd December 2002

Registry Name: Baltimore Light Station
Registry Address: Gibson Island
Registry Number: 02001417
Resource Type: Structure
Theme Group: Light Stations of the United States MPS
Owner: Federal
Architect: Flaherty, William H.; Lande, Frederick Martin, et al
Contributing Structures: 1
Other Certification: Date received-pending nomination
Certification: Listed in the National Register
Level of Significance: Local
Area of Significance: Maritime history, Transportation, Architecture
Applicable Criteria: Event, Architecture-Engineering
Criteria Consideration: Significance of less than fifty years
Significant Year: 1908, 1923, 1964
Historic Function: Transportation
Historic Sub-Function: Water-related
Current Function: Transportation
Current Sub-Function: Water-related

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