Chesapeake Bay - Lighthouses - The Mariners' Museum
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Lighthouses on the Chesapeake Bay
Life of a Lighthouse Keeper
Lighthouse Signals
Navigational Aids
Types of Lighthouse Construction
Timeline
Suggested Reading

Chesapeake Bay -
Our History and Our Future
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Bank of America
Timeline
1718 Governor Spotswood of Virginia complained to England about the danger of navigation on the Bay, especially at Cape Henry. He asked England to build a lighthouse there. England refused.
1776 The United States declared her independence from England.
1789 Congress passed a law providing for the construction of a system of navigational aids on United States waters. The Secretary of the Treasury was placed in charge of lighthouses.
1792 The first lighthouse built by the United States was completed at Cape Henry.
1820 The first lightship, the Chesapeake, was placed in the Bay.
1822 Augustin Fresnel, a French scientist, invented a new kind of lens that made the lights brighter and visible from longer distances.
1840 The first tower of brick covered with iron plates was introduced on the Bay.
1852 The Lighthouse Board was established as a separate government agency. The Board began to improve the lighthouses, installing Fresnel lenses and replacing lightships with screwpiles.
1910 The Lighthouse Board was dismantled. Supervision of lighthouses and other navigational aids was transferred to the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Lighthouses.
1923 Use of radio fog signals and beacons began.
1939 President Roosevelt placed the Coast Guard in charge of lighthouses. The Coast Guard began to upgrade and automate the lights, replacing keepers with automatic machinery.
1965 The last lighthouse was constructed on the Bay. The Chesapeake lightship was replaced with a "Texas tower," a structure similar to an offshore oil rig.
1984 Cape Henry light was automated.
1986 Cove Point, Maryland, lighthouse, the last manned lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay, was automated.


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