Piney Point Lighthouse:

    Photos taken on 27 Jan 2007 at Piney Point.

    Piney Point Lighthouse & Keeper's quarters

    Piney Point, Maryland houses a national treasure. The Piney point area possesses its own unique social history and charm. Named for the loblolly and long leaf yellow pines along the shoreline, Piney Point became the social center of Washington, D.C. between 1820 & 1910. Called the “Lighthouse of Presidents,” Piney Point Light has been visited by many past US Presidents including Theodore Roosevelt, Millard Fillmore & Franklin Pierce. The park on which the lighthouse is stationed was once the destination of celebrity vacationers. President James Monroe vacationed here in 1820 in a cottage that became known as the "Summer White House."

    The short, white tower sits 26 feet above sea level on the Potomac River in St. Mary’s County, 14 miles north of where the Potomac meets the Chesapeake Bay. The 162-year-old Light is smaller than most taller, wider lighthouses of Maryland. The Piney Point Lighthouse is a unique 35-foot, conical tower. It remained in service for over 125 years.

    In 1835, the federal government paid $300 for 2.5 acres of land in Piney Point and hired Havre de Grace native, John Donohoo to build the lighthouse the following year. In the lantern deck, a stone from the same quarry that supplied stone to the White House and Capitol was used in the construction. Inside, a wooden spiral staircase leads up to the fixed white lantern whose light could be seen for 11-miles. Piney Point Light was the first light built on the shore of the Potomac River. At a cost of $4000, its construction was completed in September of 1836. Piney Point is one of 25 lights still standing of 44 lighthouses built on the Chesapeake or one of its tributaries in Maryland between 1822 & 1910. It is only one of four lighthouses that remain standing on the Potomac River. Of the original 11 lighthouses constructed on the Potomac River, the Piney Point Lighthouse is the oldest. The other 3 lights are the Point Lookout Lighthouse, Fort Washington Bell Tower and the recently restored Jones Point lighthouse.

    Next to the lighthouse is a four-room home built for the keeper and family. A bell-tower was built in 1880 to help the sailors find their way through fog. In 1936, the bell was replaced by a fog horn. The fog horn was used until 1954, when Hurricane Hazel destroyed the bell tower.

    In the 1960s, the Coast Guard began dismantling many of the lighthouses. Piney Point Light was decommissioned in 1964. St. Mary’s county was given the lighthouse in 1980. In conjunction with the St. Clements Island Potomac River Museum, St. Mary’s county maintains the land. More modern transportation made other vacations sports more accessible and fewer people traveled to Piney Point. The six-acre park and Lighthouse attract an estimated 8,000 tourists throughout the season. The park is open 7-days a week during the summer months, from sun-up to sun-down.