Lighthouses of the United States: Delaware

The U.S. state of Delaware is a small state with a surprisingly long coastline. Most of the coast faces east on Delaware Bay and the estuary of the Delaware River, which leads to the ports of Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The southernmost part of the state faces east on the Atlantic Ocean. Note: the Ship John Shoal and Brandywine Shoal lighthouses in Delaware Bay are actually in New Jersey waters.

Delaware has suffered some painful lighthouse losses. The state's oldest lighthouse, at Cape Henlopen, was lost to erosion in 1924. The Bombay Hook Light was demolished in 1974, the New Castle Range Rear Light was destroyed in 1982, the Mahon River Light burned in 1984, just as a preservation group was being formed to save it, and the Mispillion Light burned in 2002 despite the efforts of a preservation group.

Fortunately, the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation is now working actively on behalf of Delaware lighthouses.

Navigational aids in the United States are operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, but ownership (and sometimes operation) of historic lighthouses has been transferred to local authorities and preservation organizations in many cases. Delaware lights are the responsibility of the Coast Guard's Fifth District.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume J of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. USCG numbers are from Vol. II of the U.S. Coast Guard Light List.

General Sources
Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation
The foundation's web site carries information and news about Delaware lighthouses.
Delaware Bay Lighthouse Keepers and Friends Association
A second organization dedicated to saving Delaware lighthouses.
Delaware Lighthouses
Excellent photos, historical notes, and driving directions posted by Kraig Anderson.
Online List of Lights - U.S. Atlantic Coast
Photos by various photographers posted by Alex Trabas.
Lighthouses of Delaware
Photos taken in 2002 by Ann Searle.
Lighthouses in Delaware
Photos available from Wikimedia.
Coast Guard Lighthouses - Delaware
Historic photos and notes posted by the U.S. Coast Guard Historian's office.
National Maritime Inventory - Delaware
National Park Service inventory of Delaware lighthouse data.
Leuchttürme USA auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.


Fenwick Island Light, Fenwick Island, October 2008
Flickr photo copyright 2008 Michael Burton Roark
used by permission

New Castle County (Northern Delaware) Lighthouses

Bellefont and Edgemoor Lighthouses
* Marcus Hook Range Front (2)
1918 (station established 1915). Active; focal plane 81 ft (25 m); continuous red light, day and night, visible only along the range line. 75 ft (23 m) square pyramidal tower with gallery, unpainted, mounted on a square concrete pier. This range guides vessels downstream. Trabas has a closeup photo, C.W. Bash has a 2008 photo, and Google has a fine satellite view. Located in the Delaware River opposite the foot of Hilltop Road in Bellefonte; there's a good view from the north end of nearby Fox Point State Park. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. Admiralty J1314; USCG 2-3135.
* Cherry Island Range Rear (2)
About 1970 (station established 1880). Active; focal plane 120 ft (37 m); continuous red light, day and night, visible only along the range line. Approx. 35 ft (11 m) slender square skeletal tower, unpainted. C.W. Bash has a 2008 photo, Trabas has a photo by Michael Boucher, and Bing has an aerial view. The original lighthouse was demolished around 1970. As seen in a Coast Guard historic photo, the light was shown from a square wood tower atop a 2-story wood keeper's house. The original brick oil house survives and has been renovated as an equipment room for the modern tower. Located off Riverside Drive at the north end of River Road Park in Bellefonte. There is a parking area located adjacent to the light tower. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS USA-165; Admiralty J1309.1; USCG 2-2980.
* Marcus Hook Range Rear (2)
1920 (station established 1915) . Active; focal plane 278 ft (85 m); continuous red light, day and night, visible only along the range line. 100 ft (30.5 m) square cylindrical reinforced concrete tower, unpainted; RL-24 aerobeacon. The original 4th order Fresnel range lens is on display at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. The original 2-1/2 story brick keeper's house was used as Coast Guard housing until 2004; since then it has been boarded up. Ann Searle has photos of the light station taken in 2002 when the house was still occupied. C.W. Bash's 2008 photo is at right, Trabas has a photo, Google has a street view, Lighthouse Digest has an article on longtime keeper Leslie Millar, and the tower emerges from the trees in the center of a Bing aerial view. The Coast Guard made minor repairs to the rear range tower in 2000. In March 2005 the lighthouse was offered for transfer under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, but no preservation groups applied, and the lighthouse was withdrawn from the program pending resolution of unspecified "environmental issues." Located on Lighthouse Road just south of Lore Avenue in Bellefonte, 1.75 mi (2.8 km) southwest of the front light . Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-474; Admiralty J1314.1; USCG 2-3140.
Cherry Island Range Front (3)
Date unknown (station established 1880). Active; focal plane 38 ft (12 m); red light, 1 s on, 1 s off. Approx. 33 ft (10 m) square cylindrical skeletal tower with gallery, mounted on a square 1-story equipment room. Tower painted black, equipment room white. Trabas has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. The original 21 ft (6.5 m) lighthouse was part of the Edgemoor Lighthouse Depot, a site now part of a Dupont chemical plant. Anderson has a small photo of the second light, a pyramidal skeletal tower. Located next to the southern of two piers extending from the Dupont facility. Site and tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: Dupont Corporation. ARLHS USA-1149; Admiralty J1309; USCG 2-2975.
Marcus Hook Range Rear Light
Marcus Hook Range Rear Light, Bellefonte, July 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo copyright C.W. Bash

Wilmington and New Castle Lighthouses
Bellevue Range Rear (2)
2000 (station established 1909). Active; focal plane 93 ft (28.5 m); continuous green light. 90 ft (27.5 m) triangular skeletal tower with a small gallery. Trabas has a distant view, and Bing has an aerial view. Located about 1 mile (1.6 km) northeast of the historic lighthouse (next entry). Site and tower closed, but this light should be visible from the 12th Street exit (Exit 3) of the I-495 expressway in Wilmington. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. Admiralty J1313.1; USCG 2-3085.
* Bellevue Range Rear (1)
1909. Inactive since 2000. 104 ft (32 m) square pyramidal skeletal tower with central cylinder. Entire lighthouse and lantern painted black. The keeper's house has been demolished. C.W. Bash's distant photo is at right, Luis Felipe Castro has a good photo, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Google has a very distant street view, and Bing has an aerial view. The lighthouse sits adjacent to the Cherry Island Landfill, and growth of the landfill required deactivating the historic light and building a new range tower (previous entry) in 2000. Endangered: in 2007 the lighthouse was listed for transfer under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA), but when no preservation group was interested in applying for it the lighthouse was returned to Coast Guard ownership. Located on the north side of the Christiana River about 600 m (0.4 mi) above the Delaware River in Wilmington; distantly visible downstream from the I-495 bridge over the Christiana River. Site restricted, but visitors can obtain permission at the landfill gate to view the lighthouse; tower closed. Owner: U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: Delaware Solid Waste Authority. ARLHS USA-050.
Deepwater Point Range Rear (2)
Date unknown (station established 1876). Active; focal plane 89 ft (27 m); continuous light, white by day and green by night, visible only on the range line. The tower also carries two passing lights: focal plane 41 ft (12.5 m); white flash every 4 s. 92 ft (28 m) square skeletal tower with gallery, mounted on a square platform supported by a robust pile. Trabas has a photo, and Google has a good satellite view and a distant street view. The original Deepwater range lights were built on the east side of the estuary in New Jersey. They became obsolete when the first Delaware Memorial Bridge was built in 1951. The rear light, a hexagonal skeletal tower essentially identical to the Liston Range Rear Light (see below), was demolished in 1956. The replacement range lights were built in the river, which is in Delaware. Located about 600 ft (180 m) off the New Jersey shore and a similar distance south of the original (now the eastbound) span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge (I-295). Accessible only by boat, although there must be a good view from the bridge. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS USA-219; Admiralty J1308.1; USCG 2-2910 (range light) and 2-2912 (passing lights).
Bellevue Range Rear Light
1909 Bellevue Range Rear Light, Wilmington, July 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo copyright C.W. Bash
Deepwater Point Range Front (2)
Date unknown (station established 1876). Active; focal plane 41 ft (12.5 m); white light by day and green by night, with higher intensity on the range line, 1 s on, 1 s off. 33 ft (10 m) square skeletal tower with gallery, mounted on a square platform supported by a robust pile. Trabas has a closeup photo, and Google has a good satellite view. Located 1000 ft (305 m) southwest of the rear light and about 2200 ft (670 m) off the New Jersey shore. Accessible only by boat, but there's a good view from the end of Church Landing Road in Pennsville, New Jersey. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS USA-218; Admiralty J1308; USCG 2-2895.
New Castle Range Rear (2)
1953 (station established 1876). Active; focal plane 110 ft (33.5 m); continuous green light, day and night, visible only along the range line. Approx. 90 ft (27 m) square pyramidal steel tower. Trabas has a view from the estuary, Jesus Martinez has a 2010 photo (misidentified as the front light), Google has a street view, and Bing has an aerial view. The original lighthouse, a square cylindrical wood tower rising from a front corner of a 2-1/2 story Victorian wood keeper's house, was burned intentionally in 1982 after years of vandalism and neglect. Located just west of DE 9 on Grantham Lane, about 2 mi (3 km) southwest of New Castle. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-547 (original) and 1126 (current); Admiralty J1301.1; USCG 2-2735.
New Castle Range Front (2)
1964 (station established 1876). Active; focal plane 56 ft (17 m); green light, 1 s on, 1 s off, day and night, visible only along the range line. 60 ft (18 m) square cylindrical steel tower. The original keeper's house survives, though altered by modern additions, and the original brick oil house also survives. Trabas has a photo, Jesus Martinez has a 2010 photo (misidentified as the rear light), and Bing has an aerial view. The original lighthouse, a square cylindrical wood tower, was originally attached to the keeper's house, but in 1886 it was detached and moved about 30 ft (9 m) to adjust the range line. The tower was demolished in 1964. Located on the Delaware River bank at the east end of Grantham Road about 2 mi (3 km) southwest of New Castle and 800 yards (730 m) from the rear range. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-546 (original) and 1125 (current); Admiralty J1301; USCG 2-2730.

Port Penn and Odessa Area Lighthouses
Baker Range Rear
1896 (relocated in 1904). Active; focal plane 110 ft (33.5 m); continuous green light visible only along the range line. 110 ft (33.5 m) triangular pyramidal cast iron skeletal tower, mounted at the end of a short pier projecting into the river. Tower painted black, and the tower also carries a black slatted daymark on its upper portion. Trabas has a good photo, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, and Google has a fine satellite view and a very distant street view. The lighthouse was originally the Old Reedy Island Range Rear Light. This tower was originally equipped with a pulley system that allowed the light apparatus to be lowered into a small lamp house for maintenance. The lamp house and hoisting equipment has been removed. Only a few lights of this design were built, and this is believed to be the only survivor of the class. Located on the edge of the Delaware River at St. George's Creek, about 1.8 mi (3 km) north of Port Penn. Site and tower closed, but the tower can be seen from highway 9. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-029; Admiralty J1298.1; USCG 2-2510.
* [Old Reedy Island Range Rear (1)]
1896. Inactive. The lighthouse was relocated in 1904 as the Baker Range Rear Light (previous entry). The 1-story wood keeper's house and brick oil house survive. Google has a street view and a satellite view. The house remained in service until 1924 as the keeper's house for the Baker Range Lights; thereafter the property was sold as a private residence. Located at 7 South Congress Street in Port Penn. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: private.
Baker Range Front (3)
1924 (station established 1902). Active; focal plane 35 ft (11 m); continuous green light visible only along the range line. The tower also carries a passing light: focal plane 15 ft (4.5 m); white flash every 4 s. 36 ft (11 m) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, mounted on a square platform supported by piles. Trabas has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. The original lighthouse was 1.3 mi (2 km) north of Port Penn. A temporary post light (1902) was replaced in 1904 by a 2-story wood keeper's house, with the light shone from an upstairs window. Located off the southwestern tip of Reedy Island and 1/2 mi (800 m) east of Port Penn. Accessible only by boat, but there should be a distant view from Port Penn. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: U.S. Coast Guard. ARLHS USA-1146; Admiralty J1298; USCG 2-2505 (range light) and 2-2506 (passing light).
* Liston Range Rear
1877 (relocated; was Penn Range Rear Light 1877-1905). Active; focal plane 176 ft (54 m); continuous white light, day and night, visible only on the range line. 120 ft (36.5 m) hexagonal pyramidal cast iron skeletal tower with central cylinder, lantern and gallery; aerobeacon. The original and rare 2nd order Fresnel range lens remains in use. Entire lighthouse and lantern painted black. The 2-story wood keeper's house is a private residence. The original enameled brick oil house also survives. A photo is at right, Luiz Felipe de Castro has a good photo, Trabas has a photo by Michael Boucher, Christopher Lucas has a 2009 photo, Lighthouse Digest has Bob Trapani's April 2003 article on the history of the lighthouse, Google has a street view, and Bing has an aerial view. This lighthouse is a sibling of the Finns Point and Tinicum Island range lights in New Jersey. The Liston Range extends for 20 miles (32 km), making it the longest navigation range in the U.S. In May 2004, DRBLF signed a 30-year lease of the light tower and oil house from the Coast Guard, and in August volunteers began working on the lighthouse. These efforts lagged, however, and in September 2007 the group decided to surrender its lease. In 2012 the lighthouse became available for transfer under NHLPA. When no group qualified to receive it, it was placed on auction in April 2013 and sold for $22,003 to Bill Collins, an Ohio lightjouse fan. Located on Port Penn Road about 1/2 m (800 m) east of US 13. Site and tower closed. Owner/site manager (tower): private. ARLHS USA-437; Admiralty J1292.1; USCG 2-2450.
Liston Range Rear Light
Liston Range Rear Light, Port Penn, June 2011
Flickr Creative Commons photo by hatchski
Liston Range Front (1)
1908. Inactive since 1953. focal plane 45 ft (14 m); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off, day and night, visible only on the range line. 3-story wood keeper's house topped by a square wood cupola. Building painted white with red roofs. The active light (next entry) is on a square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white, which stands in front of the original lighthouse. Luiz Felipe de Castro has a good photo, Ann Searle has a photo taken from the water showing the lighthouse and the 1953 replacement, and Google has a satellite view. The house is a private residence; the owner, Dr. William Duncan, is a grandson of the station's first keeper. Dr. Duncan has maintained the lighthouse in excellent condition, and in January 2004 the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located on the Delaware River off DE 9 near the intersection of Bayview and St. Augustine Roads, about 2.5 mi (4 km) south of Port Penn. Site and tower closed (gated community), although the lighthouse can be seen from route 9. Owner/site manager: private. ARLHS USA-436.
Liston Range Front (3)
Date unknown (station established 1908). Active; focal plane 45 ft (14 m); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 40 ft (12 m) square skeletal tower. Lighthouse painted white. Trabas has a photo, and Ann Searle has a photo taken from the water showing the lighthouse and the 1953 tower. Located in front of the historic lighthouse. Site and tower closed. Admiralty J1292; USCG 2-2445.
* Reedy Island Range Rear (2)
1910 (station established 1896). Active; focal plane 134 ft (41 m); continuous red light, visible only on the range line. 110 ft (33.5 m) square pyramidal skeletal tower with central cylinder, lantern and gallery; DCB-224 aerobeacon. Entire lighthouse and lantern painted black. Lee Lilly's photo is at right, Trabas has a photo, another photo is available, Google has a street view, and Bing has an aerial view. The original 1-1/2 story wood keeper's house, privately owned for many years, was destroyed by fire on 6 April 2002. This is an outbound (southbound) range; the front light is 2.8 mi (4.5 km) north on a 22 ft (7 m) skeletal tower. The Coast Guard painted the light tower in 2000. After the 2002 fire, the property was sold, and the new owner has cleared away all of the light station except for the light tower and a wood barn. Lighthouse Digest also reported on the fire. Located at Taylor's Bridge, on DE 9 at the intersection of Taylor's Bridge and Fleming Landing Roads about 8 km (5 mi) southeast of Odessa. Site open (respect private property), tower closed. Owner (tower only): U.S. Coast Guard. Site manager: private. ARLHS USA-692; Admiralty J1299.1; USCG 2-2585.
Liston Range Rear Light
Reedy Island Range Rear Light, Odessa, September 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Lee Lilly

Kent County Lighthouses

* Mahon River (4?)
Date unknown (station established 1831). Active; focal plane 37 ft (11 m); white flash every 4 s. 37 ft (11 m) square skeletal tower mounted on a square platform supported by piles. Trabas has a closeup photo showing an osprey atop the tower, a distant view is available (click on the photo for an enlargement), Google has a street view, and Bing has an aerial view. The second (1903) lighthouse, a 2-story wood keeper's house with a lantern centered on the roof, was deactivated in the 1950s and destroyed by fire in 1984. This lighthouse would be a good candidate for reconstruction. Located just offshore at Port Mahon, south of the mouth of the Mahon River estuary. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS USA-464; Admiralty J1289; USCG 2-2415.
* Murderkill River Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 65 ft (20 m); continuous green light with higher intensity on the range line. Approx. 59 ft (18 m) square cylindrical skeletal tower. Trabas has a closeup photo, and Google has a street view and a good satellite view. Located beside Bowers Beach Road about 1 mile (1.6 km ) southwest of the waterfront. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty J1286.1; USCG 2-2310.
Fourteen Foot Bank
1888. Active; focal plane 59 ft (18 m); white flash every 9 s; red sector covers nearby shoal. 40 ft (12 m) square cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 2-story wood keeper's house, mounted on a round cast iron caisson; solar-powered lens (1997). Fog horn (3 s blast every 30 s). The original 4th order Fresnel lens is on display at the Cannonball House Maritime Museum in Lewes. Diane Hamiltons's photo is at right, and another good photo is available. An attractive and well preserved caisson lighthouse. The lighthouse carries an array of environmental monitoring equipment as part of the University of Delaware's Delaware Bay Observing System. In 2005 the light was offered for transfer under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. The American Lighthouse Foundation attempted to secure ownership of the lighthouse in partnership with the University, but these plans fell through. In 2007 the lighthouse was sold at auction for $200,000 to Michael Gabriel, a Nevada lawyer. Gabriel has plans to renovate the lighthouse, and work was to begin in 2009. He planned to use a room in the lighthouse as a brewery, selling the beer produced to help support renovation expenses. Gabriel has also continued leasing space on the tower for the University's instrumentation. Located near the center of Delaware Bay, about 10 km (6 mi) east northeast of Big Stone Beach. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: private. ARLHS USA-305; Admiralty J1266; USCG 2-1575.

Fourteen Foot Bank Light, Delaware Bay, June 2005
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Diane Hamilton

Sussex County (Southern Delaware) Lighthouses

Mispillion Lighthouses
#Mispillion (2)
1873 (station established 1831). Inactive since 1929. The lighthouse was demolished in June 2000 after a fire on 2 May 2002 left it in ruins; it was a 65 ft (20 m) square cylindrical wood tower rising from one corner of a 2-story gothic style wood keeper's house. The Coast Guard has a historic photo. Formerly used as a restaurant and inn, the light station was listed for sale in 1997 at an asking price of $549,000 (including an adjacent restaurant building and docks). The building was badly deteriorated and critically endangered, with broken windows and visible holes in the roof. In August 2001 the Digest named this the "Most Endangered Lighthouse in the U.S.A." Bob Trapani has contributed some photos taken before and after the fire. A month after the fire, the remains of the lighthouse were removed. In 2004, John and Sally Freeman identified themselves as the new owners and announced they were rebuilding the lighthouse as a private residence at Shipcarpenter Square in Lewes. However, the rebuilding used much more new than original material and the house was considerably expanded in size, so the result is not really a reconstruction. Meanwhile, the state purchased the original site and built the DuPont Nature Center where the lighthouse once stood. Originally located at the mouth of the Mispillion River and the end of Lighthouse Road, off DE 36 about 8 km (5 mi) east of Milford. ARLHS USA-503.
* Mispillion (3)
1924 (relocated from Cape Henlopen in 1929). Inactive since 1984. 60 ft (18 m) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted black. Jim McKay has a photo, the Coast Guard has a historic photo, Google has a street view, and Bing has an aerial view. Located at the mouth of the Mispillion River and the end of Lighthouse Road, off DE 36 about 8 km (5 mi) east of Milford. Site and tower closed. Owner: Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. Site manager: DuPont Nature Center. ARLHS USA-1224.

Lewes Lighthouses
Note: Named for a town in the English county of Sussex, Lewes is pronounced as if it were spelled Lewis.
[Delaware Breakwater Range Rear (Greenhill)]
1881. Inactive since 1918. The tower, a square pyramidal skeletal tower with central cylinder, was relocated to Gasparilla Island Range in Florida in 1921. The original keeper's house (quite dilapidated) and oil house survive. Trees hide the ruins in Google's satellite view of the area. Huelse has a historic photo of the station. In 2002, the Lewes Greenways and Trails Committee planned to develop a trail to the site and perhaps restore the buildings or reconstuct the lighthouse. In April 2003, Lewes City Council decided to create a 15-acre park and nature preserve including restoration of the keeper's house and oil house. However, as of 2010 no work had been done to implement these plans. Located in the Great Marsh at the end of Pilottown Road west of Lewes. Site open. Owner/site manager: City of Lewes. ARLHS USA-1013.
**** Lightship 118 (WLV-539) Overfalls
1938 (Rice Brothers, East Boothbay ME). Decommissioned 1972 (a decorative light is shown from the crow's nest). Single-masted steel lightship, length 116 ft (35.4 m), beam 25 ft (7.6 m). Michael Lore's photo is at right, Anderson has a page for the ship with good photos, a good July 2007 photo is available, C.W. Bash has an August 2008 photo, Google has a street view, and Bing has an aerial view. WLV-539 was the last lightship built in the U.S. Though named now for the former Overfalls Shoal lightship station off Lewes, the ship actually served all of its career off New England, the last ten years of it as the Boston. A local support group, revived in 1999, took ownership of the vessel in December 2001. Engineering studies of the ship in early 2000 revealed it was in bad shape and needed to be moved onshore for preservation. Lighthouse Digest has a November 2003 article on these efforts. In the winter of 2004-05 the ships's electrical system was rebuilt and running lights were installed, as well as the light in the crow's nest. In October 2005 restoration efforts got a big boost from a $275,000 federal grant. In October 2008, the ship was successfully towed 275 mi (440 km) to the Colonna Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, for essential repairs. These repairs were complete by March 2009. In March 2009, the Delaware Department of Transportation made $400,000 of federal stimulus funds available for construction of a permanent dock for the ship. Work on that project was underway early in 2010, and the ship was ready to receive visitors by summer. In 2014, the restored pilot house of the former fishing charterboat Stephanie Anne was opened as a museum for the lighthship. Located on the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal at the end of Shipcarpenter Street in Lewes. Site open, vessel open for guided tours Thursday through Monday from late May through September 30 and Friday through Sunday in October; group tours can also be arranged out of season. Owner/site manager: Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation. ARLHS USA-573.
Overfalls Lightship
Overfalls Lightship, Lewes, August 2010
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Michael Lore
Delaware (Lewes) Breakwater
1885. Inactive since 1996 (a decorative white light is displayed toward the land). 65 ft (20 m) sparkplug style round tower with 3-story round keeper's quarters, lantern and gallery. The original 4th order Fresnel lens is still mounted in the lantern. Lighthouse painted brown. Mike Mehaffie's 2009 photo is at right, a 2011 photo is available, and Bing has an aerial view. Until 1918, this lighthouse was the front light of a range, the Greenhill lighthouse (see above) being the rear light. The exterior was restored in 1999, when the lighthouse was transferred to the State of Delaware. The tower needs interior restoration. The Delaware River and Bay Authority leased the lighthouse in 2001 with the intention of restoring it and opening it to the public. In 2004 the Authority and the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation formed a partnership to carry out these intentions, and the lighthouse was subleased to the Foundation. Volunteers began working to clean up the tower, and public tours began in June 2005. Located at the east end of a detached breakwater sheltering Lewes harbor. Accessible only by boat, but there's a good view from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Public tours have been suspended due to a lack of state funding. Owner: State of Delaware. Site manager: Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation. ARLHS USA-222; Admiralty J1281.2.
Harbor of Refuge (2)
1926 (station established 1902). Active; focal plane 72 ft (22 m); white flash every 5 s; two red sectors cover nearby shoals. 76 ft (23 m) sparkplug style round cast iron lighthouse with 3-story round keeper's quarters, lantern and gallery, mounted on a caisson; solar-powered VRB-25 lens. The DCB-36 aerobeacon used from about 1945 to 1997 has been rebuilt for display on site. Lighthouse painted white, lantern and caisson black. Fog horn (two 2 s blasts every 20 s). A photo is at right, Anderson has an excellent page with good photos, Bill Britten also has a nice photo, Trabas has a distant view, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Bing has an aerial view. The present lighthouse replaced a beautiful 3-story octagonal lighthouse built on the same caisson. The exterior of the tower was restored by Coast Guard in 1999. Also in 1999, the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation began working for its restoration. In 2001 the Coast Guard repaired the docking platform and ladders to improve safety of access to the building. In April 2002, the Coast Guard granted the Foundation a 20-year lease on the light station, and in August the Foundation began preliminary restoration work. The first step was to restore the windows, which had been removed and boarded up by the Coast Guard. The station's dock landing was restored in March 2003 and the first tour was held in June. On September 30, 2004, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the Foundation. Damage by Hurricane Isabel in September was quickly repaired, but there was concern that the lighthouse was endangered by the poor condition of the Harbor of Reguge Breakwater on which it is built. In late 2007, Congress appropriated $340,000 for repairs to the breakwater. In 2010, winter storms damaged the station's dock, and the lighthouse had to be closed pending repairs. At last report it remains closed. (The lighthouse faces the open Atlantic and is highly vulnerable to storms.) Located at the end of a long breakwater extending off the tip of Cape Henlopen near Lewes; there's a good view from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed since 2010. Owner/site manager: Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation. ARLHS USA-366; Admiralty J1280; USCG 2-1530.


Delaware Breakwater Light, Lewes, January 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Mike Mahaffie


Harbor of Refuge Light, Lewes, April 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by reivax


Atlantic Coast Lighthouse
*** Fenwick Island
1859. Reactivated (inactive 1978-1982, now privately operated); focal plane 83 ft (25 m); white light, on 7.5 s, off 5.5 s. 84 ft (25.5 m) round brick tower with lantern and gallery. The original 3rd order Fresnel lens remains in use. Lighthouse painted white, lantern black. Original 2-story wood keeper's house and 1881 assistant keeper's house are privately owned. Small museum in lighthouse base. Michael Burton Roark's photo is at the top of this page, Britten has a good photo of the light station, Trabas has a foggy photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. A major restoration in 1981-82 saved the lighthouse, and a there was another significant renovation in 1997-98. In 2006, the exterior of the lighthouse was repaired and painted; Geoffrey Meyer-van Voorthuijsen has an April photo of the project in progress. Located on 146th Street at Lighthouse Avenue in Fenwick Island, a few feet from the Delaware-Maryland state line. Site open; tower open Friday through Monday in July and August and on Saturday and Sunday Memorial Day through June 30 and the first three weekends of September. Owner: State of Delaware. Site manager: New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. ARLHS USA-283; Admiralty J1354; USCG 2-0205.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

  • Cape Henlopen Replica (2), Lewes. Located in a roundabout on Rehobeth Avenue (DE 1A), this well-known replica, recently rebuilt, is a fairly good one third size copy of the original. Google has a street view and a good satellite view.
  • Dewey Beach has a prominent faux lighthouse that also resembles the original Cape Henlopen Light.

Adjoining pages: North: Southeastern Pennsylvania | East: New Jersey | South: Virginia | West: Maryland

Return to the Lighthouse Directory index | Ratings key

Posted 2001. Checked and revised May 6, 2014. Lighthouses: 22. Lightships: 1. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.