Celebrating National Lighthouse Day 2020

By Shalana Millard

It’s August 7: one of my favorite days of the year. What’s so special about it? It’s National Lighthouse Day; the day the United States has designated annually, to celebrate the history, power and magic of lighthouses.

My capture of Concord Point lighthouse in Havre de Grace, Maryland on September 29 2018.

As an avid lover of lighthouses, I think of the history and stories they hold. I think of the keepers that occupied lighthouses, maintained them and helped ensure they were a beacon of safety for mariners. Each lighthouse has its own unique story to tell.

During my first visit to Hooper Straight lighthouse on the grounds of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s Maryland in 2017, I was drawn to a poster that explained that due to the danger every year from winter ice, women and children were not allowed to live at Hooper Strait; they could visit for two weeks during the summer. I wondered what it may have been like for a married keeper at Hooper Strait, to live without their family for a majority of the year, knowing they would only see them for two weeks.

September 29, 2017- I captured this poster inside Hooper Strait lighthouse that explained due to the dangers from winter ice, women and children could not live at the lighthouse, but could visit two weeks in the summer.

When I think of the stories lighthouses hold, I think of Anna Weems Ewalt, who was born in Drum Point lighthouse on July 13, 1906. (During my visit to Drum Point on September 22, 2014, they had a tribute to Anna on one of the walls.) I wondered what it was like for her parents to bring a child into the world inside a lighthouse.

Drum Point lighthouse honors the woman who was born inside the lighthouse on July 13, 1906.

As I contemplate the stories lighthouses hold, I also think of the physically demanding job of being a keeper. I think of the oil canister that was on display during my first visit to Absecon lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 20, 2013, and how my mind wondered how a lighthouse keeper would have managed to carry a heavy oil canister up 228 steps in order to maintain the light.

September 20, 2013- I captured this oil canister on display inside Absecon lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Whether you’re fascinated by the beauty and romance of lighthouses, or the stories of the keepers who lived in and maintained them, find a reason to celebrate lighthouses not just on today, National Lighthouse Day, but every day!

Leave a comment in this post to let me know how you’ll be celebrating lighthouses. Are you planning to visit one as lighthouses begin to re-open safely, with protocols in place, during the global pandemic?


Lighthouses: All Shapes And Sizes, But One Common Purpose

Today is National Lighthouse Day.  And as I do this time every year, I like to reflect on the lighthouse experiences I’ve had thus far.  And scroll through my library of lighthouse photos and videos I’ve taken.

Tonight, I’ve been revisiting pictures I took on September 19, 2015,  during a boat cruise of 10 lighthouses along the Chesapeake in Maryland.

Sharps Island Lighthouse

Baltimore Lighthouse

Craighill Channel Lower Rear Lighthouse

Craighill Channel Lower Front Lighthouse

As I’ve looked through these pictures, I was reminded of one timeless truth: lighthouses come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  But they’ve all served a common purpose.

It is a lesson that we as humans would do well to remember.


National Lighthouse Day

Annually, National Lighthouse Day is celebrated on August 7 in honor of United States lighthouses.

On August 7, 1789, Congress approved an act “for the establishment and support of lighthouse, beacons, buoys, and public piers.”

Read the text of the original act here:

In honor of National Lighthouse Day, take a journey back with me to some of the lighthouses I have visted over the course of almost three years.

I will always have a special affinity for Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is the first lighthouse I ever visited and climbed.

Absecon is the tallest lighthouse in the Garden State, and the third tallest in the United States.

I first visited there in September 2013.

Above: My nighttime view of Absecon Lighthouse on Septmeber 19, 2013.

Above: September 20, 2013 at Absecon Lighthouse- I could barely contain my excitement as I spent my birthday climbing a lighthouse for the first time.

Since 2013, I have made it a point to try to visit Absecon Lighthouse once a year.

In 2014, I returned to Absecon to celebrate another birthday there.

I was not able to visit in 2015, but look forward to a return visit this year. As the wonderful staff at Absecon are fond of saying: “228 steps- one amazing journey.”

On September 22, 2014 I visted Drum Point Lighthouse in Solomon, Maryland. Drum Point is one of the few remaining screw pile, cottage style lighthouses in Maryland.

Above: Listening to the tour guide give a talk about Drum Point Lighthouse, from the room that houses the fourth-order fresnel lens.

What I love most about Drum Point Lighthouse, is the sense it gives you of how families actually lived there. Inside you will find replicas of living quarters, including bedrooms, a kitchen and dining room. On one of the walls is a tribute to Anna Weems Ewalt, who was born inside Drum Point on July 13, 1906.

In 2015, I wanted to experience lighthouses in a way I had not before.

On Septmeber 19, I boarded the MV Sharps Island boat for a tour of 10 lighthouses along the Chesapeake Bay.

As the boat approached each lighthouse, CAPT Mike would stop the boat long enough to talk about the lighthouse and allow us time to take pictures.

One of my favorite lighthouses that day, was Thomas Point Lighthouse, our second stop on the tour.

Other personal favorites for me that day, were the Baltimore Lighthouse (currently undergoing renovation), and the Pooles Island Lighthouse.

The day after my boat tour, I visted the Cove Point Lighthouse in Lusby, Maryland.

Cove Point is stil an active aide to navigation. As such, you can stand at the base of the lighouse and look up the spiral staircase. But you cannot go to the top of the lighthouse.

Each lighthouse experience is unique. You come away with different information and lessons learned, and thankful for each opportunity to experience lighthouses in a different way. I am looking forward to new lighthouse experiences in the weeks ahead.

Happy National Lighthouse Day!


The Winter of Our Discontent

I’ve just come from a a brief trip outside, watching the snow fall as we take another pounding from Mother Nature.


And I can’t help but think of better weather days, and planning my next lighthouse adventures.

With the snow already here and freezing rain on tap later, I’m thinking back to my tour of ten Chesapeake lighthouses last September.

Such an exhilarating feeling to be on the open waters of the Chesapeake, onboard the MV Sharps Island boat, indulging in my fascination of lighthouses.

What will this year’s lighthouse adventures hold?  I can’t wait for the weather to break to find out!



Above: The approach to the lighthouse.


Above: My view of Sandy Point lighthouse on September 19, 2015, from the MV Sharps Island boat.  Sandy Point has fallen into disrepair over the years, but is being restored.


Experiencing Lighthouses in a Different Way

I have been fascinated with lighthouses for as long as I can remember.  In 2013, I finally indulged this fascination by beginning to visit these aids to navigation.  (My first visit, to Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was chronicled in the March/April 2014 issue of Lighthouse Digest magazine.  My second visit to Absecon, and first visit to Drum Point Lighthouse, were chronicled in the March/April 2015 issue of Lighthouse Digest.)

Because I had only been to land-based lighthouses, I was determined that 2015 would be the year I would experience lighthouses in a different way.  On September 19, I embarked on a day-long cruise of ten lighthouses along the Chesapeake in Maryland.

Shortly after 8:00 AM, I arrived at the Knapp’s Narrows Marina & Inn in Tilighman, Maryland and boarded the Sharps Island Boat; the M/V Sharps Island.  At the helm was CAPT Mike, who has had the boat since 2002.  After a few minutes of explaining boat safety and what I and the other passengers could expect on this lighthouse tour, the adventure began!

The first stop of the morning was the Sharps Island Lighthouse.  CAPT Mike explained that as we approached each lighthouse, the boat would be slowed down in order for us to take pictures.  As we arrived upon Sharps Island Lighthouse, CAPT Mike made sure to point out the masonry inside the lighthouse.

Next, it was on to Thomas Point Lighthouse.  Thomas Point is the last screw pile lighthouse along the Chesapeake, that is still in its original location.

Stopping by Thomas Point Lighthouse on September 19, 2015 on the M/V Sharps Island.

Our third stop of the morning was Sandy Point Lighthouse, which is now privately owned and being repaired.

Baltimore Lighthouse was our fourth stop of the day.  It was the last lighthouse along the Chesapeake to be built, and is privately owned.

Next on the agenda was a stop at Tolchester Beach in Chestertown, Maryland for lunch at the Channel Inn Restaurant.  This also allowed for the opportunity to refuel the boat.

After lunch, we saw the remaining lighthouses that were part of the itinerary.

The fifth lighthouse of the day was Pooles Island Light.  CAPT Mike remarked that he could not get the boat too close to this particular lighthouse, because of a nearby shoal.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines shoal as “a sandbank or sandbar that makes the water shallow.”

Photo Sep 19, 1 21 23 PM

Pooles Island Lighthouse

Craighill Lower Range Light- Rear, North Point Range Lights, Craighhill Channel Upper Range Light- Front were our next stops.

Bloody Point Lighthouse was the final lighthouse on the tour.  CAPT Mike noted that it was the scene of a terrible fire in 1960.

The approach to Bloody Point Lighthouse!

We returned to the Knapp’s Narrows Marina just shortly after 5:00 PM, after a beautiful, relaxed day spent on the waters of the Chesapeake, looking at 10 lighthouses, all different in shape, size, and the stories they held, from the Sharps Island boat.

To learn more about various tours of the Chesapeake lighthouses, visit:

The next morning, September 20, I capped my birthday weekend’s lighthouse festivities with a visit to Cove Point Lighthouse in Lusby, Maryland.

Cove Point is Maryland’s oldest, continuously operating lighthouse. Because it is still an active aid-to-navigation, those visiting the lighthouse are not permitted to go to the very top of the lighthouse to the tower room. During my visit, it was explained that we could stand at the base inside the lighthouse and look up at the spiral staircase.

Cove Point Lighthouse as seen on September 20, 2015.

You can also arrange for overnight stays at Cove Point Lighthouse. The morning of my tour of Cove Point, we could not go inside the keeper’s house because there was a family who had rented the keeper’s house for an overnight stay.

It was an extremely windy day at Cove Point Lighthouse. 

Although I was visiting Cove Point Lighthouse independently, it was exciting to see others who were there as part of Maryland’s Lighthouse Challenge Weekend, during which participants are encouraged to visit as many lighthouses in Maryland as possible, during the challenge weekend. Inside the Visitor’s Center on the grounds of Cove Point, many of those participating in the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge Weekend were getting their lighthouse passport books stamped, marking their visit to Cove Point.

To learn more about Cove Point Lighthouse, visit:

As 2015 winds down and I reflect on my year, I am thankful for the opportunity to have experienced lighthouses in a different way by participating in a boat tour of 10 off-shore lighthouses along the Chesapeake, and also continuing my visit to land-based lighthouses such as Cove Point.

I am enriched by each lighthouse experience I have, and always come away eager for the next!