As guests anxiously peer over the side railings, they notice fishermen tirelessly working under the blazing sun as they catch enormous stripers that wriggle in defeat. They feel like children again as they explore the area and notice strange markings chiseled into a pile of rocks; what they are observing are the signatures of the men who once manned this beautiful and significant lighthouse.
No matter one’s age, summers should include at least one memorable adventure. What could be better than a boat ride on a beautiful summer day, an intimate group size and a tour of the last screw-pile lighthouse in its original location? This Saturday, June 30, marks the first of many tours of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse held by the Annapolis Maritime Museum. The three-hour fun begins with a 30-minute boat ride which departs from the museum. Participants will then be led on an engaging tour of the lighthouse where they will be informed on topics ranging from the lifestyles of the past lighthouse keepers to the explanation of how the rest of this specific type of lighthouse came to be destroyed. The tour ends with another 30-minute boat ride back to the museum, where guests enjoy the splendor of the Chesapeake Bay.
The Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, built in 1875, was once one of 42 unique screw-piles, but due to flowing masses of ice, their vulnerable structures took heavy hits and their bases were destroyed. The name screw-pile comes from the 42 foot long poles that the structure rests on, which are corkscrewed manually into the sandy bottom below. They do not resemble what one would typically imagine when they hear the word “lighthouse”; they are smaller and resemble more of a shack than a tall, tower-like structure. Its operations became automated in 1986, but nonetheless it is still an aid to navigators on the waters of the Chesapeake.
In 2004 the Annapolis Maritime Museum became one of four partners to adopt the lighthouse. They also have joined the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society for the purpose of protecting and restoring such a marvelous structure. Currently, the Thomas Point Shoal uses solar panels on its roof. Now the structure is open to public for educational purposes, sailing enthusiasts, and overall curiosity. This is the sixth year of the tours and last year over 600 guests had this enlightening opportunity.
So don’t waste your time and reserve your spot today as there is a limited 18-passenger capacity for each tour. All tours run at three separate times: 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. Tickets are $70 and can be reserved by calling the museum at 410-295-0104. The other tours will be held on July 7, July 28, August 11, August 18 and September 6, all at the same time periods listed above.
It’s exciting and meaningful events like this that really celebrate the spirit and history of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay.