Piney Point LIghthouse

Posted by on Jun 13, 2012 in Blog | 5 comments

Piney Point Lighthouse, St. Mary's County, Maryland

Piney Point Lighthouse, St. Mary’s County, Maryland

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

Piney Point Lighthouse is the oldest light on the Potomac River.  It is located on the Maryland shore fourteen miles up the Potomac River from the Chesapeake Bay.  A lightship had been stationed in the area since 1821, to mark shoal hazards at Piney Point and on the opposite shore at Ragged Point.  In March 1835, Congress set aside $5,000 for construction of a land-based beacon to replace the lightship.  In late December of 1835 2.6 acres of land were acquired from Henry Suter for $300.

Piney Point Lighthouse was built in 1836 by John Donohoo.  The lighthouse, first lit in September of 1836, is much like Donahoo’s other towers, such as Concord Point and Cove Point – a thick and block-like structure in the form of a truncated cone.  The tower is painted white with the nine-sided lantern currently painted black. The interior of the tower is 13 feet at ground level and the wall at ground level is four feet thick.

Piney Point Lighthouse, St. Mary's County, Maryland

Piney Point Lighthouse, St. Mary’s County, Maryland

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

In addition to the tower, Donahoo built a one-story keeper’s dwelling topped by an A-line roof.  The small 20 x 30 foot house contained a dining room, parlor, fireplace and cellar, and was given a 10 x 12 foot kitchen later on.  In 1884 a second story was added to the structure, greatly improving the keeper’s comfort level.

The original lighting apparatus consisted of 10 lamps with each in its own 15-inch reflector.  In June of 1855 this was replaced with a 5th-order Fresnel lens which has since been removed.
The light was decommissioned in 1964 and in 1980 the Coast Guard transferred ownership to the Saint Mary’s County Department of Recreation and Parks.  The museum along with many volunteers have done an exceptional job of restoring the grounds, the lighthouse and the keepers quarters.

Further information on Piney Point Lighthouse can be found on the web-sites of the Chesapeake Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society and Lighthouse

Click here for a guide to over 750 lighthouses in America that you can visit.


  1. Nice images Mark. I love lighthouses and am always happy to see and learn about ones I’ve never heard of. Thanks.
    Len Saltiel recently posted..The Other Side of Half DomeMy Profile

  2. Like Len, I’m a big fan of lighthouses. They all have their own identity and character, and you’ve done a great job capturing this one.
    Steven Perlmutter recently posted..Beacon MarineMy Profile

  3. Wondeful images Mark. I love lighthouse and we’re heading to Maine in a few weeks and am looking forward to hunting a few down.
    Edith levy recently posted..At Home in MuranoMy Profile

  4. Great post, Mark. Love the write-up, you provided excellent historical information. These photos are wonderfully captured and processed.

    Thanks for sharing this!
    Jimi Jones recently posted..Pier PostMy Profile

  5. Definitely one of my personal favorite photography subjects! Isn’t it amazing to see this wonderful old facility in such great shape like this. Fabulous images here, Mark, totally top drawer!
    Toad Hollow Photography recently posted..A Peaceful OutlookMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.