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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Skip Willits, 07/2003
Cut-Off Channel Range Rear Light Station
Inventory No.: BA-1553
Other Name(s): New Cut-Off Channel, Craighill Channel Upper Rear Range Light
Date Listed: 12/2/2002
Location: Wharf Road, Sparrows Point, Baltimore County
Category: Structure
Related Multiple Property Record: Old National Pike Milestones
Description: The Cut-off Channel Rear Range Light Station rests on four brick pier foundations, which support an iron exoskeleton square pyramid frame with an inner wooden tower built on a brick foundation. The wooden tower, which encloses a stairwell, is sheathed with corrugated sheet metal. The range light is located in the top of the wooden shaft at an elevation of 75 feet above the water. The rear range light is 1.3 miles northwest of the front range light, and together they work in tandem guiding vessels into a cut-off channel into the Patapsco River inside Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, which cuts several miles off the route to Baltimore. Four corner brick pier foundations, each of which is capped by a single square-shaped brown stone cap, support a 3-story iron exoskeleton square pyramid frame. The corner posts are cast-iron columns connected by cast-iron knuckles. The horizontal crossbeams are made of I-beams. Diagonal cross supports are iron rods connected by pins to the knuckle connectors. Within the exoskeletal frame is a 4 1/2-story square wooden tower supported by a brick foundation. The tower, which encloses a stairwell, is sheathed with corrugated sheet metal. The brick foundation has a diamond shaped ventilation pattern formed by leaving out selected alternating bricks on both the north and south face. An entrance door is located on the south, or water side, of the first level. A brick walk runs east and west in front of the steps and, presumably, once connected to the keeper's house, which is now demolished. The door is a modern replacement wooden flush door. A transom above the door has been filled with wood. Between the transom and the top of the door is a decorative wooden molding, which may be original fabric. On the south side above the door on the second and third level were 4/4 sash windows, which are now covered with plywood. On the upper half level of the south side is a single pane for the range light to beam through. There is no fenestration on the west side of the tower. The north side has a window opening on the second, third, and fourth levels, but these are also covered with plywood. The east side has no windows, but a half paneled wooden door is located on the fourth level. This door accesses a small single-plank walkway attached to the top of the iron skeletal tower. This is probably a remnant of the former gallery, which surrounded the tower and allowed for maintenance and cleaning of the pane. The rail surrounding the former gallery had vertical bars between the lower and upper medial rail and a handrail above it. There were seven vertical balusters to a side to support the rails. From this gallery, a ladder ascended to a small platform just under the lantern pane. The tapering pyramid skeletal iron frame ends at the gallery or top of the third-level. The roof is a shallow pyramid standing seam metal roof capped with a finial. The tower is painted white and the roof black. The rear range light is located onshore at the head of Old Road Bay, Pennwood Wharf, Jones Creek, Sparrows Point, north side of the mouth of Patapsco River, near Edgemere. Access to the property is via Sparrow Point Boulevard, within the Sparrows Point Bethlehem Steel Plant. Significance: The Cut-Off Channel Range Rear 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 lighthouse embodies a distinctive design and method of construction that typified range light construction on the Chesapeake Bay during the second half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. In order to aid navigation through a cut-off channel between the Craighill Channel and Brewerton Channel, the Upper Range Front and Rear lights were constructed in 1886. As long as the navigator kept the front and rear lights aligned, one directly above the other, the vessel was in the channel. The light was automated in 1929.


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