Lighthouses of the United States: Delaware
The U.S. state of Delaware is a small state with a coastline about 125 mi (200 km) long. Most
of the coast faces east on Delaware Bay and the estuary of the Delaware
River, which leads to the ports of Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. The southernmost part of the state faces east on the
Delaware has suffered some painful lighthouse losses. The state's
oldest lighthouse, at Cape
Henlopen, was lost to erosion in 1924. The Bombay Hook Light was
demolished in 1974, the New Castle Range Rear Light was destroyed
in 1982, the Mahon River Light burned in 1984, just as a preservation group was
being formed to save it, and the Mispillion Light burned in 2002
despite the efforts of a preservation group.
Ship John Shoal and Brandywine Shoal lighthouses in Delaware Bay are
actually in New
Navigational aids in the United States are operated by the U.S. Coast Guard but ownership (and sometimes operation) of historic lighthouses has been transferred to local authorities and preservation organizations in many cases. Delaware lights are the responsibility of the Coast Guard's Fifth District.
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights. Admiralty
numbers are from volume J of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog
Signals. USCG numbers are from Vol. II of the U.S. Coast Guard Light
- General Sources
- Delaware Bay Lighthouse Keepers and Friends Association
- An organization dedicated to saving Delaware Bay lighthouses in both Delaware and New Jersey.
- Excellent photos and historical accounts posted
by Kraig Anderson.
- Online List of Lights - U.S. Atlantic Coast
- Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
- Photos taken in 2002 by Ann Searle.
- Lighthouses in Delaware
- Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
USA auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
- NOAA Nautical Chart On-Line Viewer: Mid Atlantic
- Nautical charts for the coast can be viewed online.
- U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center: Light Lists
- The USCG Light List can be downloaded in pdf format.
Fenwick Island Light, Fenwick Island, October
copyright 2008 Michael Burton Roark
used by permission
New Castle County (Northern Delaware)
- Bellefont and Edgemoor Lighthouses
Hook Range Front (2)
- 1918 (station established 1915). Replaced in 2019. This was a 75 ft (23 m)
square pyramidal tower with gallery, unpainted, mounted on a square concrete
pier. This range guides vessels downstream. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's closeup photo,
C.W. Bash has a 2008 photo,
and Google has a satellite view. In June 2019 this tower was replaced by a shorter tower with a new light (focal plane 26 ft (8 m); quick-flashing light, red at night and white in the daytime, visible only along the
range line). Located in the Delaware River opposite the foot of Hilltop Road
in Bellefonte; there's a good view from the north end of nearby Fox
Point State Park. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S.
Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-1416. Active light: Admiralty J1314; USCG 2-3135.
- * Cherry
Island Range Rear (2)
- About 1970 (station established 1880). Active; focal plane 120 ft (37 m);
continuous red light, day and night, visible only along the range line.
Approx. 35 ft (11 m) slender square skeletal tower, unpainted. The original brick oil house survives and has been
renovated as an equipment room for the modern tower. C.W. Bash
has a 2008 photo,
Trabas has a photo by Michael Boucher, and Bing has an aerial
view. The original lighthouse was demolished around 1970. As seen in
a Coast Guard historic photo the light was shown from a square wood tower atop a 2-story
wood keeper's house. This range guides vessels northbound toward Philadelphia. Located off Riverside
Drive at the north end of River Road Park in Bellefonte. There is a parking
area located adjacent to the light tower. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS
USA-165; Admiralty J1309.1; USCG 2-2980.
- * Marcus
Hook Range Rear (2)
- 1920 (station established 1915). Inactive since 2019. 100 ft (30.5 m) square cylindrical reinforced concrete
tower, unpainted; RL-24 aerobeacon. The original 4th
order Fresnel range lens is on display at the Independence
Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. The original 2-1/2 story brick
keeper's house was used as Coast Guard housing until 2004. Ann Searle has photos
of the light station taken in 2002 when the house was still occupied by a Coast Guard family.
C.W. Bash's 2008 photo is at right, Trabas has a photo, Google has a street view, Lighthouse
on longtime keeper Leslie Millar, and the tower emerges from the
trees in the center of a Bing aerial
view. The Coast Guard made minor repairs to the rear range tower
in 2000. In March 2005 the lighthouse was offered for transfer under
NHLPA, but no preservation
groups applied and the lighthouse was withdrawn from the program
pending resolution of unspecified "environmental issues." In 2010 the Coast Guard sold the property outside the NHLPA process and it is now a private residence. It's not clear if the sale included the light tower. In 2019 the Coast Guard adjusted the range line slightly and built new skeletal towers for the front and rear lights. The new rear light has focal plane 78 ft (24 m); red light at night and white light in the daytime, occulting once every 4 s and visible only along the
range line. Located
at 314 Lighthouse Road just south of Lore Avenue in Bellefonte, 1.75
mi (2.8 km) southwest of the front light. Site and tower closed.
Owner/site manager: private. ARLHS USA-474. Active light: Admiralty J1314.1;
Island Range Front (3)
- Date unknown (station established 1880). Active; focal plane 38
ft (12 m); red light, 1 s on, 1 s off. Approx. 33 ft (10 m) square
cylindrical skeletal tower with gallery, mounted on a square 1-story equipment
room. Tower painted black, equipment room white. Trabas has a photo,
and Google has a satellite view. The original 21 ft (6.5 m) lighthouse was part of the Edgemoor
Lighthouse Depot, a site now part of a Dupont chemical plant. The National Archives has a photo of the original light and Anderson has a small photo of the second light, a pyramidal skeletal tower. Located
next to the southern of two piers extending from the Dupont facility.
Site and tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: Dupont
Corporation. ARLHS USA-1149; Admiralty J1309; USCG 2-2975.
Marcus Hook Range Rear Light, Bellefonte, July 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo
copyright C.W. Bash
Wilmington and New Castle Lighthouses
Range Rear (2)
- 2000 (station established 1909). Active; focal plane 93 ft (28.5 m); continuous
green light. 90 ft (27.5 m) triangular skeletal tower with a small gallery.
Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo and Bing has an aerial view. This is a range guiding vessels downstream. The front light is on a short skeletal tower. Located about 1 mile (1.6 km) northeast
of the historic lighthouse (next entry). Site and tower closed, but this
light should be visible from the 12th Street exit (Exit 3) of the I-495 expressway
in Wilmington. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. Admiralty J1313.1; USCG
- * Bellevue
Range Rear (1)
- 1909. Inactive since 2000. 104 ft (32 m) square pyramidal skeletal
tower with central cylinder. Entire lighthouse and lantern painted
black. The keeper's house (the former Christiana lighthouse) was demolished in 1939. C.W. Bash's distant
photo is at right, Luis Felipe Castro has a good photo,
the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Google has a very distant street view from the I-495 expressway, and Bing has an aerial
view. The lighthouse sits adjacent to the Cherry Island Landfill
and growth of the landfill required deactivating the historic light
and building a new range tower (previous entry) in 2000. Endangered:
in 2007 the lighthouse was listed for transfer under the National
Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA), but when no preservation group was
interested in applying for it the lighthouse was returned to Coast Guard ownership. It is abandoned and deteriorating; in 2018 it was added to the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List. Located on the north side of the Christiana
River about 600 m (0.4 mi) above the Delaware River in Wilmington;
distantly visible downstream from the I-495 bridge over the Christiana River. Site
restricted, but visitors can obtain permission at the landfill gate
to view the lighthouse; tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site
manager: Delaware Solid Waste Authority.
1909 Bellevue Range Rear Light, Wilmington, July 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo copyright C.W. Bash
Point Range Rear (2)
- Date unknown (station established 1876). Active; focal plane 89 ft
(27 m); continuous light, white by day and green by night, visible
only on the range line. The tower also carries two passing lights:
focal plane 41 ft (12.5 m); white flash every 4 s. 92 ft (28 m) square
skeletal tower with gallery, mounted on a square platform supported
by a robust pile. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, and Google has a good satellite view and a distant street view. This range guides vessels upstream. The original Deepwater range lights were built on the east
side of the estuary in New Jersey. They became
obsolete when the first Delaware
Memorial Bridge was built in 1951. The rear light, a hexagonal
skeletal tower essentially identical to the Liston Range Rear Light
(see below), was demolished in 1956. The replacement range lights were
built in the river, close to the New Jersey shore but in Delaware waters. Located about 600 ft (180
m) off the New Jersey shore and a similar distance south of the original
(now the eastbound) span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge (I-295). Accessible
only by boat although there must be a good view from the bridge. Site
open, tower closed. ARLHS USA-219; Admiralty J1308.1; USCG 2-2910 (range
light) and 2-2912 (passing lights).
Point Range Front (2)
- Date unknown (station established 1876). Active; focal plane 41 ft (12.5
m); white light by day and green by night, with higher intensity on the
range line, 1 s on, 1 s off. 33 ft (10 m) square skeletal tower with gallery,
mounted on a square platform supported by a robust pile. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's closeup photo and Google has a good satellite
view. Located 1000 ft (305 m) southwest of the rear light and about
2200 ft (670 m) off the New Jersey shore. Accessible only by boat but
there's a good view from the end of Church Landing Road in Pennsville,
New Jersey. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS USA-218; Admiralty J1308; USCG
- #Bulkhead Bar Range Rear (1)
- Date unknown. Removed in late 2017 or early 2018. This was an approx. 39 ft (12 m) square pyramidal skeletal tower painted black. Trabas has Michael Boucher's photo (also seen at right), and Google has a 2012 street view and a satellite view of the location. This range guides northbound vessels as they turn from the New Castle Range to the Deepwater Point Range. The former front light, on a short skeletal tower at the water's edge, has been repurposed as the rear light of the range, and a new front light was placed in the water. Formerly located at the intersection of 8th Street and Young Street in New Castle. Site open. Current light (ex-Front Light): Admiralty J1306.1; USCG
- New Castle
Range Rear (2)
- 1953 (station established 1876). Active; focal plane 110 ft (33.5 m); continuous
green light, day and night, visible only along the range line. Approx. 90
ft (27 m) square pyramidal steel tower. Trabas has a view from
the estuary, Jesus Martinez has a 2010 photo (misidentified as the front light), Google has a street view, and Bing has an aerial
view. This range guides vessels upstream. The original
lighthouse, a square cylindrical wood tower rising from a front corner
of a 2-1/2 story Victorian wood keeper's house, was burned intentionally
in 1982 after years of vandalism and neglect. Located just west of DE
9 on Grantham Lane, about 2 mi (3 km) southwest of New Castle. Site and
tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-547 (original)
and 1126 (current); Admiralty J1301.1; USCG 2-2735.
- New Castle
Range Front (2)
- 1964 (station established 1876). Active; focal plane 56 ft (17 m); green
light, 1 s on, 1 s off, day and night, visible only along the range line.
60 ft (18 m) square cylindrical steel tower. The original keeper's house
survives, though altered by modern additions, and the original brick oil
house also survives. Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, Jesus Martinez has a 2010 photo (misidentified as the rear light), and Bing has an aerial
view. The original lighthouse, a square cylindrical wood tower, was originally attached
to the keeper's house, but in 1886 it was detached and moved about 30
ft (9 m) to adjust the range line. The tower was demolished in 1964.
Located on the Delaware River bank at the east end of Grantham Road about
2 mi (3 km) southwest of New Castle and 800 yards (730 m) from the rear
range. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS
USA-546 (original) and 1125 (current); Admiralty J1301; USCG 2-2730.
Bulkhead Bar Range Rear Light (now lost), New Castle
photo copyright Michael Boucher; used by permission
Delaware City, Port Penn, and Odessa Area Lighthouses
- Bulkhead Shoal Channel Range Rear
- Date unknown. Active (privately maintained); focal plane 71 ft (22 m); continuous white light. Approx. 69 ft (21 m) square pyramidal skeletal tower. Trabas has a distant view from the estuary, and Google has a satellite view. This range guides vessels arriving at the Delaware City Refinery. The front light is on a platform in the river. Located at the water's edge just north of the refinery and about 2 mi (3 km) northwest of Delaware City. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: PBF Energy. Admiralty J1304.1; USCG 2-2770.
- Baker Range Rear (1)
- 1896 (relocated in 1904). Inactive. 110 ft (33.5 m) triangular
pyramidal cast iron skeletal tower, mounted at the end of a short pier projecting
into the river. Tower painted black, and the tower also carries a black
slatted daymark on its upper portion. Trabas has a good photo, the Coast
Guard has a historic
photo, and Google has a satellite
view and a very distant street view. The lighthouse was originally the Old Reedy Island Range Rear
Light. This tower was originally equipped with a pulley system that allowed
the light apparatus to be lowered into a small lamp house for maintenance.
The lamp house and hoisting equipment has been removed. Only a few lights
of this design were built, and this is the only survivor
of the class. Located on the edge of the Delaware River at St. George's Creek, about 1.8 mi (3
km) north of Port Penn. Site and tower closed but the tower can be seen
from highway 9. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-029
- Baker Range Rear (2)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 65 ft (20 m); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off, visible only along the range line. The tower also carries a
passing light: focal plane 18 ft (5.5 m); white flash every 4 s. 65 ft (20 m) skeletal tower mounted on a square platform. Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo and Google has a satellite view. Located just offshore about 0.68 mi (1100 m) south of the historic light. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty
J1298.1; USCG 2-2510. Passing light: USCG 2-2511.
- * [Old
Reedy Island Range Rear (1)]
- 1896. Inactive. The lighthouse was relocated in 1904 as the Baker Range
Rear Light (previous entry). The 1-story wood keeper's house and brick oil
house survive. Google has a street view and a satellite view. The house remained in service until 1924 as the keeper's
house for the Baker Range Lights; thereafter the property was sold as a
private residence. Located at 7 South Congress Street in Port Penn.
Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: private.
Range Front (3)
- 1924 (station established 1902). Replaced. This was a 36 ft (11
m) square skeletal tower with gallery, mounted on a square platform
supported by piles. It has been replaced by a smaller light; Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo and Google has a satellite view. The original lighthouse was 1.3 mi (2 km) north of Port Penn.
A temporary post light (1902) was replaced in 1904 by a 2-story wood keeper's
house, with the light shone from an upstairs window. Located off the
southwestern tip of Reedy Island and 1/2 mi (800 m) east of Port Penn. Accessible
only by boat, but there should be a distant view from Port Penn. Site open,
tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-1146; Admiralty
J1298; USCG 2-2505 (range light) and 2-2506 (passing light).
- * Liston
- 1877 (relocated; was Penn Range Rear Light 1877-1905). Active; focal
plane 176 ft (54 m); continuous white light, day and night, visible
only on the range line. 120 ft (36.5 m) hexagonal pyramidal cast iron skeletal
tower with central cylinder, lantern and gallery; aerobeacon. The
original and rare 2nd order Fresnel range lens remains in use. Entire
lighthouse and lantern painted black. The 2-story wood keeper's house
is a private residence. The original enameled brick oil house also
survives. A photo is at right, Luiz Felipe de Castro has a good photo,
Trabas has a photo by Michael Boucher, Christopher Lucas has a
2009 photo, Lighthouse
Digest has Bob Trapani's April 2003 article on
the history of the lighthouse, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse is a sibling of the Finns Point and Tinicum
Island range lights in New Jersey. The Liston
Range extends for 20 miles (32 km), making it the longest navigation
range in the U.S. In May 2004 the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation signed a 30-year lease of
the light tower and oil house from the Coast Guard and in August volunteers
began working on the lighthouse. These efforts lagged, however, and
in September 2007 the group decided to surrender its
lease. In 2012 the lighthouse became available for transfer under NHLPA. When no group qualified to receive it, it was placed on auction in April 2013 and sold for $22,003 to Bill Collins, an Ohio lighthouse fan. Collins later bought the Manistique Breakwater and Skillagalee Lighthouses in Michigan; he has started a preservation organization called Light Keepers Preservation. In 2016 the keeper's house was for sale for $309,900. Located on Port Penn Road about 1/2 m (800 m) east of US 13.
Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager (tower): private.
ARLHS USA-437; Admiralty J1292.1; USCG 2-2450.
Liston Range Rear Light,
Port Penn, June 2011
Flickr Creative Commons photo by hatchski
Range Front (1)
- 1908. Inactive since 1953. focal plane 45 ft (14 m); white light,
3 s on, 3 s off, day and night, visible only on the range line. 3-story
wood keeper's house topped by a square wood cupola. Building painted
white with red roofs. The active light (next entry) is on a square
pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white, which stands in front of the
original lighthouse. Luiz Felipe de Castro has a good photo,
Searle has a photo taken
from the water showing the lighthouse and the 1953 replacement, and
Google has a satellite
view. The house is a private residence; the owner, Dr. William
Duncan, is a grandson of the station's first keeper. Dr. Duncan has
maintained the lighthouse in excellent condition and in January 2004
the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located on the Delaware River off DE 9 near the intersection of Bayview
and St. Augustine Roads, about 2.5 mi (4 km) south of Port Penn. Site
and tower closed (gated community), although the lighthouse can be
seen from route 9. Owner/site manager: private. ARLHS USA-436.
Range Front (3)
- Date unknown (station established 1908). Active; focal plane 45
ft (14 m); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 40 ft (12 m) square skeletal
tower. Lighthouse painted
white. Trabas has a photo
and Ann Searle has a photo taken
from the water showing the lighthouse and the 1953 tower. Located
in front of the historic lighthouse. Site
and tower closed. Admiralty J1292; USCG
- * Reedy
Island Range Rear (2)
- 1910 (station established 1896). Active; focal plane 134 ft (41 m); continuous
red light, visible only on the range line. 110 ft (33.5 m) square pyramidal
skeletal tower with central cylinder,
lantern and gallery; DCB-224 aerobeacon. Entire lighthouse and lantern painted
black. Lee Lilly's photo is at right, Trabas has a photo,
is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The original 1-1/2 story wood keeper's house, privately owned
for many years, was destroyed
on 6 April 2002. This is an outbound (southbound) range; the front light is 2.8 mi (4.5 km) north on a 22 ft (7 m) skeletal tower. The Coast Guard
painted the light tower in 2000. After the 2002 fire the property was sold
and the new owner has cleared away all of the light station except for the
light tower and a wood barn. George Fisher's October 2017 photo shows the barn to be in very poor condition. Lighthouse Digest also reported
on the fire. Located at Taylor's Bridge, on DE 9 at the intersection of Taylor's Bridge and
Fleming Landing Roads about 8 km (5 mi) southeast
of Odessa. Site open (respect private property), tower closed. Owner (tower only): U.S. Coast
Guard. Site manager: private. ARLHS USA-692; Admiralty J1299.1; USCG 2-2585.
Reedy Island Range Rear Light,
Odessa, September 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Lee Lilly
Kent County Lighthouses
- Date unknown (station established 1831). Removed in 2016. 37 ft (11 m) square skeletal tower
mounted on a square platform supported by piles. Trabas has a closeup photo showing an osprey atop the tower and Google has a 2012 street view, but Google's satellite view confirms the removal of the light. The second (1903) lighthouse, a 2-story wood keeper's house
with a lantern centered on the roof, was deactivated in the 1950s
and destroyed by fire in 1984. This lighthouse would
be a good candidate for reconstruction. Located just offshore at
Port Mahon, south of the mouth of the Mahon River estuary. Site open,
tower closed. ARLHS USA-464; ex-Admiralty J1289; ex-USCG 2-2415.
- * Murderkill River Range Rear
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 65 ft (20 m); continuous green
light with higher intensity on the range line. Approx. 59 ft (18
m) square cylindrical skeletal tower. Trabas has a closeup photo and Google
has a street view and a good satellite
view. The front light is on a wood tripod offshore. Located beside Bowers Beach Road about 1 mile (1.6 km )
southwest of the waterfront. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS USA-1418; Admiralty J1286.1;
- 1888. Active; focal plane 59 ft (18 m); white flash every 9 s;
red sector covers nearby shoal. 40 ft (12 m) square cylindrical
tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 2-story wood keeper's
house, mounted on a round cast iron caisson; solar-powered lens
(1997). Fog horn (3 s blast every 30 s). The original 4th order Fresnel
on display at the Cannonball
House Maritime Museum in Lewes. Diane Hamiltons's photo is
at right, Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, and another good photo
is available. An attractive and well preserved caisson lighthouse.
The lighthouse carries an array of environmental monitoring equipment
as part of the University of Delaware's Delaware
Bay Observing System. In 2005 the light was offered for transfer
under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. The American
Lighthouse Foundation attempted to secure ownership of the lighthouse
in partnership with the University, but these plans fell through.
In 2007 the lighthouse was sold at auction for $200,000 to Michael
Gabriel, a Nevada lawyer. Gabriel had plans to renovate the lighthouse
and work was to begin in 2009. He planned to use a room in the lighthouse
as a brewery, selling the beer produced to help support renovation
expenses. Gabriel also continued leasing space on the tower
for the University's instrumentation. Located near the center of
Delaware Bay, about 10 km (6 mi) east northeast of Big Stone Beach.
Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: private. ARLHS USA-305;
Admiralty J1266; USCG 2-1575.
Fourteen Foot Bank Light, Delaware Bay, June 2005
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Diane Hamilton
Sussex County (Southern Delaware)
- Mispillion Lighthouses
- 1873 (station established 1831). Inactive since 1929. The lighthouse was
demolished in June 2002 after a fire on 2 May 2002 left it in ruins; it was
a 65 ft (20 m) square cylindrical wood tower rising from one corner of a 2-story
gothic style wood keeper's house. The Milford Museum has a historic photo. Formerly used as a restaurant and inn, the
light station was listed for sale in 1997 at an asking price of $549,000 (including
an adjacent restaurant building and docks). The building was badly
deteriorated and critically
endangered, with broken windows and visible holes in the roof. In August
2001 the Digest named this the "Most
Endangered Lighthouse in the U.S.A." Bob Trapani has contributed some
photos taken before and after
the fire. A month after the fire the remains of the lighthouse were removed.
In 2004 John and Sally Freeman identified themselves as the new owners and
announced they were rebuilding the lighthouse as a private
residence at Shipcarpenter Square in Lewes. However, the rebuilding used
much more new than original material and the house was considerably expanded
in size, so the result is not really a reconstruction. Meanwhile the state
purchased the original site and built the DuPont Nature Center where the lighthouse once stood. Originally located at the
mouth of the Mispillion River and the end of Lighthouse Road, off DE 36 about
8 km (5 mi) east of Milford. ARLHS USA-503.
- 1924 (relocated from Cape Henlopen in 1929). Inactive since 1984 and rempved after 2008. This was a 60 ft
(18 m) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted black.The Coast Guard has a historic photo and Google has a 2008 street view, but Google's satellite view confirms the removal of the tower. Located at the mouth of the Mispillion River and the end of Lighthouse
Road, off DE 36 about 8 km (5 mi) east of Milford. Site and tower closed.
Owner: Delaware Division of Fish and
Wildlife. Site manager: DuPont Nature Center. ARLHS USA-1224.
Note: Named for a town in the English county of Sussex, Lewes is pronounced as if it were spelled Lewis.
Breakwater Range Rear (Greenhill)]
- 1881. Inactive since 1918. The tower, a square pyramidal skeletal
tower with central cylinder, was relocated to Gasparilla Island
in Florida in 1921. The original keeper's house (quite dilapidated) and
oil house survive. Trees hide the ruins in Google's satellite
view of the area. Huelse has a historic photo of the station. In 2002 the Lewes Greenways and Trails Committee
to develop a trail to the site and perhaps restore the buildings or reconstuct
the lighthouse. In April 2003 Lewes City Council decided to create a 15-acre
park and nature preserve including restoration of the keeper's house and
oil house. However, as of 2019 no work has been done to implement these plans. Located in the Great Marsh at the
end of Pilottown Road west of Lewes. Site open. Owner/site manager: City of Lewes. ARLHS USA-1013.
- **** Lightship
118 (WLV-539) Overfalls
- 1938 (Rice Brothers, East Boothbay ME). Decommissioned 1972 (a decorative
light is shown from the crow's nest). Single-masted steel lightship, length
116 ft (35.4 m), beam 25 ft (7.6 m). Michael Lore's photo is at right, Anderson has a page for the ship with good photos,
a good 2014 photo is available, C.W. Bash has an August 2008 photo,
and Google has a street view and a satellite view. WLV-539 was the last lightship built in the U.S. Though named
now for the former Overfalls Shoal lightship station off Lewes, the ship
actually served all of its career off New England, the last ten years
of it as the Boston. A local support group, revived in 1999, took ownership of the vessel in December 2001. Engineering studies of the ship in early
2000 revealed it was in bad shape and needed to be moved onshore for preservation. Lighthouse
a November 2003 article on these efforts. In the winter of 2004-05 the ships's electrical system
was rebuilt and running lights were installed, as well as the light in the
crow's nest. In October 2005 restoration efforts got a big boost from a
$275,000 federal grant. In October 2008 the ship was successfully towed
275 mi (440 km) to the Colonna Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, for essential
repairs. These repairs were complete by March 2009. In March 2009
the Delaware Department of Transportation made $400,000 of federal stimulus
funds available for construction of a permanent dock for the ship. Work on
that project was underway early in 2010 and the ship was ready to
receive visitors by summer. In 2014 the restored pilot house of the former fishing charterboat Stephanie Anne was opened as a museum for the lightship. In November 2017 the ship was towed across Delaware Bay to the Dorchester shipyard for maintenance and repainting of the hull. Located on the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal
at the end of Shipcarpenter Street in Lewes. Site open, vessel open for guided tours Thursday through Monday from Memorial Day weekend (late May) through Labor Day weekend (early September), Friday through Sunday the rest of September, and Saturday and Sunday in early October; group tours can also be arranged out of season.
Owner/site manager: Overfalls
Maritime Museum Foundation . ARLHS USA-573.
Overfalls Lightship, Lewes, August 2010
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Michael Lore
- [Delaware (Lewes) Breakwater West End (Delaware Breakwater Range Front) (3?)]
- Date unknown (station established 1838). Active; focal plane 45 ft (14 m); green flash every 4 s. Approx. 41 ft (12.5 m) square skeletal tower. Trabas has Michael Boucher's photo and Google has a satellite view. Anderson discusses this station on his page for the Delaware Breakwater Light (next entry), and he has a Coast Guard photo of the second (1849) lighthouse. From 1881 to 1903 this was the front light of a range with the Greenhill lighthouse (see above) as the rear light. The historic lighthouse was deactivated in 1903 but it stood until it was demolished sometime in the 1950s. Located at the west end of the detached breakwater sheltering Lewes harbor. Accessible only by boat but there's
a good view from the Cape
May-Lewes Ferry. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-1361; Admiralty
J1281.2; USCG 2-2030.
- ** Delaware
- 1885. Inactive since 1996 (a decorative white light is displayed
toward the land). 65 ft (20 m) sparkplug
style round tower with 3-story round keeper's quarters, lantern and
gallery. The original 4th
order Fresnel lens is still mounted in the lantern. Lighthouse
painted brown. Mike Mehaffie's 2009 photo is at right, a 2011 photo is available, Mike Gillispie has a distant street view, and Google
has a satellite view. Until 1918 this lighthouse was the front light of a range,
the Greenhill lighthouse (see above) being the rear light. The exterior
was restored in 1999, when the lighthouse was transferred to the State
of Delaware. The tower needs interior restoration. The Delaware
River and Bay Authority leased the lighthouse in 2001 with the
intention of restoring it and opening it to the public. In 2004 the
Authority and the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation formed
a partnership to carry out these intentions, and the lighthouse was
subleased to the Foundation. Volunteers began working to clean up
the tower, and public tours began in June 2005. Located at the east
end of a detached breakwater sheltering Lewes harbor. Accessible only by boat but there's
a good view from the Cape
May-Lewes Ferry. Public tours were suspended for several years due to a lack of state funding, but Cape Water Tours and Taxi now offers tours (reservations recommended) on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday June through September.
Site open, tower open to guided tours. Owner: State of Delaware. Site manager: Delaware
River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation . ARLHS USA-222.
of Refuge (2)
- 1926 (station established 1902). Active; focal plane 72 ft (22
m); white flash every 5 s; two red sectors cover nearby shoals.
76 ft (23 m) sparkplug style
round cast iron lighthouse with 3-story round keeper's quarters,
lantern and gallery, mounted on a caisson; solar-powered VRB-25
lens. The DCB-36 aerobeacon used from about 1945 to 1997 has been
rebuilt for display on site. Lighthouse painted white, lantern and
caisson black. Fog horn (two 2 s blasts every 20 s). A photo is
at right, Anderson has an excellent page
with good photos, Bill Britten also has a nice photo,
Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, Marinas.com has aerial
photos, and Bing has a satellite
view. The present lighthouse
replaced a beautiful 3-story octagonal
lighthouse built on the same caisson. The exterior of the tower
was restored by Coast Guard in 1999. Also in 1999 the Delaware
River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation began working for its restoration.
In 2001 the Coast Guard repaired the docking platform and ladders
to improve safety of access to the building. In April 2002 the
Coast Guard granted
the Foundation a 20-year lease on the light station and in August
the Foundation began preliminary restoration work. The biggest challenge was (and is) maintaining access. The lighthouse faces the open Atlantic and is highly vulnerable to storms; docks at the lighthouse have been destroyed repeatedly by storm waves. The first step
was to restore the windows,
which had been removed and boarded up by the Coast Guard. The station's
dock landing was restored in March 2003 and the first
tour was held in June. On September 30, 2004, ownership of
the lighthouse was transferred
to the Foundation. Damage by Hurricane Isabel in September was quickly
but there was concern that the lighthouse was endangered by the
poor condition of the Harbor of Refuge Breakwater on which it is
built. In late 2007 Congress appropriated $340,000 for repairs
to the breakwater. In 2010 winter storms again damaged the station's
dock and the lighthouse had to be closed pending repairs. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused more damage. Finally, thanks to a $1 million grant, a new dock custom designed to withstand harsh conditions was completed in late fall 2016. Volunteers repainted the tower and restored the interior in 2017 and tours resumed in 2018. Located
at the end of a long breakwater extending off the tip of Cape Henlopen
near Lewes; there's a good view from the Cape
May-Lewes Ferry. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower open to monthly guided tours (reservations required) during the summer. Owner/site manager: Delaware
River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation . ARLHS USA-366; Admiralty
J1280; USCG 2-1530.
Delaware Breakwater Light, Lewes, January 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Mike Mahaffie
Harbor of Refuge Light, Lewes, April 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by reivax
Atlantic Coast Lighthouse
- ** Fenwick
- 1859. Reactivated (inactive 1978-1982, now privately operated); focal plane
83 ft (25 m); white light, on 7.5 s, off 5.5 s. 84 ft (25.5 m) round brick
tower with lantern and gallery. The original 3rd order Fresnel lens remains
in use. Lighthouse painted white, lantern black. Original 2-story wood keeper's
house and 1881 assistant keeper's house are privately owned. Small museum
in lighthouse base. Michael Burton Roark's photo is at the top of this page,
Jim Utter has a 2018 photo, Britten has a good photo of the
light station, Trabas has a foggy photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite
view. A major restoration
in 1981-82 saved the lighthouse and there was another significant renovation
in 1997-98. In 2006 the exterior of the lighthouse was repaired and painted;
Geoffrey Meyer-van Voorthuijsen has an April photo
of the project in progress. In 2017 the state purchased the adjoining keeper's house and announced plans to restore the house and paint the lighthouse. There is hope that it will be possible to open the tower for climbing. Located on 146th Street at Lighthouse Avenue
in Fenwick Island, a few feet from the Delaware-Maryland state
line. Site open; keeper's house open Thursday through Monday mornings in July and August and Friday through Monday in June and September; only the base of the tower is open to visitors. Owner: State
of Delaware. Site manager: New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. ARLHS
USA-283; Admiralty J1354; USCG 2-0205.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
- Bellevue Range Front (1909-1929). Anderson discusses this lighthouse on his page for the Bellevue Range Rear Light. It was replaced by a skeletal tower in 1929.
Hook (1841-1974), Delaware Bay south of Woodland Beach. Deactivated in 1912, the lighthouse stood for many years, suffering fires and vandalism; the ruins were finally demolished in 1974. There is no longer a light on the point. ARLHS USA-1011.
- Cape Henlopen
(1767-1924), Delaware Bay entrance. The loss of this historic 93 ft (28.5 m) octagonal stone tower was a great tragedy. Huelse has a historic postcard view, and a 1922 postcard photo shows the light station shortly before its collapse due to beach erosion. There is no longer a light on the cape. ARLHS USA-120.
Henlopen Beacon (1825-1884), Delaware Bay entrance 3/4 mi (1.2 km) north of the historic lighthouse. There is no longer a light on the cape. ARLHS USA-1186.
(1835-1939), north side of the mouth of Christiana River. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1909 but served as the keeper's house for the Bellevue Range until 1934. The old lighthouse was demolished in 1939. Today the river entrance is marked by a beacon on the south jetty. ARLHS USA-1150.
Beacon (Christiana North Jetty) (1884-?), mouth of Christiana River. Anderson discusses this lighthouse on his page for the Bellevue Range Rear Light. There is no longer a light on the jetty. ARLHS USA-173.
Penn Range Front (1876-1904), Delaware River. The range was replaced by the Liston Range. Sold in 1911, the lighthouse was used as a rental dwelling until it burned sometime in the 1930s. A historical marker was placed at the site in 2003. The Port Penn Range Rear Light was moved in 1906 and became the Liston Range Rear Light (see above). ARLHS USA-1151.
Notable faux lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: North: Southeastern Pennsylvania
| East: New Jersey | South: Virginia
| West: Maryland Eastern Shore
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Posted 2001. Checked and revised May 30, 2019. Lighthouses:
25. Lightships: 1. Site copyright 2019 Russ Rowlett and the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill.