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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Skip Willits, 12/1999
Turkey Point Light Station
Inventory No.: CE-195
Date Listed: 12/2/2002
Location: Turkey Point Road , Chesapeake Isle/North East vicinity, Cecil County
Category: Structure
Period/Date of Construction: 1833
Architect/Builder: Builder: John Donohoo
Description: The Turkey Point Light Station consists of an 1833 tapering, conical, stucco-covered, brick tower and a 1913 9' x 7' concrete oil house. Other station structures including a 2 1/2-story brick and frame keeper's quarters, fog bell tower, boat landing, stable, woodshed, and smokehouse have been destroyed. The brick tower is 31 1/2 feet from its base to the parapet, 16 feet in diameter at the base, and 9 feet, 8 inches at the top. The walls are 2 1/2 feet thick at the base, and 14 inches at the top. The foundation is made of timber and stone crib. Openings include a doorway to the south with stone jambs, sill, and lintel, and three 6/6 sash windows facing southwest, north, and southeast to light the interior stair. The lantern is made of cast iron and the roof of sheet iron, capped by a ball finial. At some point the original wooden steps were removed by the Coast Guard to prevent vandalism and the present metal ladders and landings were eventually added to gain access to the lantern. The tower floor is poured concrete, which covers the original brick floor. The lantern is a 9-sided cast-iron lantern surrounded by a gallery and three rows of railings supported by cast-iron balusters. The lantern was apparently painted red but changed to its present black color in the late 1800s. A fourth-order Fresnel lens was replaced with a solar-powered 250mm acrylic lens during automation. The light was originally a fixed white and changed to flashing white in 1947 when the station was automated. The Fresnel lens was stolen after automation. When Turkey Point Light was decommissioned in April 2000, the solar powered 250mm acrylic lens was removed from the lantern. The keeper's quarters had originally been a one-story brick building, raised to two stories with a board-and-batten second floor. Five bays wide with a central entrance sheltered by a shed-roofed porch, the house had 8/8 sash windows on the first floor and 6/6 above. Corbeled interior brick chimneys in the gable ends and in the end of the shed-roofed two-story rear wing heated the house. The station is located on a 100-foot high bluff at the tip of Turkey Point, Elk Neck State Park, confluence of Elk River and Northeast River, near the head of the Chesapeake Bay, near North East. Located on a 100-foot high bluff, Turkey Point Lighthouse is one of the highest on Chesapeake Bay and is visible for 13 miles. Access to the property is through Elk Neck State Park. Significance: Constructed in 1833 by noted lighthouse builder John Donohoo, the Turkey Point Light Station is significant for its association with federal governmental efforts to provide an integrated system of navigational aids and to provide for safe maritime transportation in the Chesapeake Bay, a major transportation corridor for commercial traffic from the early 19th through 20th centuries. The Turkey Point Lighthouse is one of the earliest extant lighthouses in the state of Maryland. The lighthouse embodies a distinctive design and method of construction that typified lighthouse construction on the upper Chesapeake Bay during the first half of the 19th century. Excluding Cape Henry (164 feet) and Cape Charles (191 feet), Turkey Point Lighthouse, sitting on a 100-foot bluff, has the highest focal plane of any lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay at 129 feet above the water
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