Blackistone Island Light

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St.Clements Island, United States

Blackistone Island Light St.Clements Island Reviews

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From the St. Clements Island Museum Jul 27, 2002
On August 14, 1848, Congress appropriated $3,500 for building a lighthouse on Blackistone Island. John Donahoo, who was known for his quality work and reasonable rates, was contracted to build the lighthouse and would eventually build over a dozen beacons on the shores of Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Most of Donahoo’s lighthouses took the form of a conical tower, but Blackistone Lighthouse consisted of a two-and-a-half-story residence with a short tower protruding through the center of its pitched roof.

Isaac Wood was hired as the lighthouse’s first keeper and was initially responsible for minding the eleven oil lamps, set in fourteen-inch reflectors, that were used to produce a fixed white light at a focal plane of forty-six feet above the river.

During the Civil War, Confederate forces planned to destroy the lighthouse to keep it from aiding Union forces. When Keeper Jerome McWilliams learned of the plan, he pleaded with the Confederates to spare the structure as his wife was close to childbirth and moving her off the island would endanger both her life and that of the unborn child. The Confederate officer had compassion on the couple and instead of tearing down the lighthouse opted to confiscate the supply of oil and destroy the lantern and lens. This incident occurred in May 1864, and a new lantern was installed later that year.

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The winter of 1917 – 1918 caused unprecedented erosion on St. Clements Island, forcing the Lighthouse Service to place 400 tons of riprap stone on the island to restore the existing shore protection that had been displaced by ice and storms.

Blackistone Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1932, and twenty-four years later a shell from the nearby Naval Proving Ground reportedly exploded near the abandoned lighthouse and set it afire. The Navy later razed the walls of the structure

Through the efforts of the St. Clement's Hundred, a local community organization created for the preservation of St. Clement's Island, a replica of the Blackistone Lighthouse was constructed and completed in June of 2008. The replica is located on the southern end of the island and stands on higher ground and overlooks the ruins of the original lighthouse. This magnificent 2-story structure was built using the original blueprints of the 1851 lighthouse..

Water taxi service to the island is available on Saturdays and Sundays from the St. Clement's Island Museum on the mainland. Once you get to the island, you can visit the lighthouse
Blackistone Lighthouse from the wa…
Front of the lighthouse building
top of the lighthouse
Lighthouse lantern
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St.Clements Island Map
St.Clements Island