Ham's Bluff Light, U.S. Virgin Islands

Ham's Bluff Light is located on a 360-foot (110 m) headland at the western end of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is an active lighthouse; its solar-powered light displays two white flashes every 30 seconds at a focal plane 394 feet (120 m) above the Caribbean.

For a long time there were no current photos of this lighthouse available on the Internet. Thanks to Kebby Kelley of the USCG Environmental Management Division in Washington, we can present, on the left, a September 2003 photo taken as part of the Coast Guard's nomination of this light station to the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, the photo reveals that the lighthouse is in really terrible condition. Compare its appearance today to the historic photo on the right, taken from the collection of the USCG Historian.

Based on this one photo, Lighthouse Digest added Ham's Bluff Light to its Doomsday List in April 2004.


U.S. Coast Guard photo, September 2003

U.S. Coast Guard photo, undated

Ms. Kelley has also provided the following information about the light station:

The Hams Bluff Light Station was designed and built in 1915 by the Danish government. It is situated on the northwestern coast of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, on a bluff named Hams Bluff. The bluff rises approximately 360 feet above sea level. The property is a 0.25-acre circular parcel of land that measures 120 feet in diameter. The Light Station is centered in the middle of the land parcel. The land around the structure is mostly undeveloped, consisting of tropical trees and shrubs. The property is not accessible by the public and can only be reached by foot through government property along the severely overgrown access road leading to the structure.

The original site consisted of 22.5 acres and included a lighthouse and two one-story keeper's quarters. In 1981, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred the property to the U.S. Navy with the exception of the Lighthouse and 0.25 acres of land surrounding it.

In 1912, the Directorate of the Danish Lighthouse Service purchased the property from J. W. Blackwood. The land was later ceded to the United States by Denmark under the Convention of Cession to the United States of the Danish West Indies, dated August 4, 1916, and proclaimed by the President of the United States of America on January 25, 1917. On July 20, 1917, by Executive Order No. 2670, the President of the United States ordered that all public property of the former government of the Virgin Islands ceded to the United States, consisting of lighthouses and the public land adjacent to and used in connection with, were taken for the uses and purposes of the United States.

On October 21, 1981, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred 22.25 acres of the property (all except 0.25 acres directly surrounding the light structure) to the U.S. Navy through Title Ten.

The light structure is a cylindrical, cast iron tower built to a height of 35 feet on top of a concrete foundation. The diameter of the tower measures to about 12 feet. The exterior was painted white and the cupola, at the top, painted black to identify the light. There is a doorway at ground level on the south side of the structure used for access. There is also a doorway at top of the stairs at the cupola level that leads to an exterior ledge or
walkway around the cupola. The interior consists of only one floor and the walls and metal stairway are also painted. The optic is an automated electric lamp, powered by a solar cell and battery system.

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Created August 2002. Revised and updated November 5, 2008. Checked and revised November 9, 2013. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.