The Chesapeake Bay is more than a beautiful body of water—it’s a complex,
changeable and sometimes dangerous natural wonder. Before the invention of modern navigation instruments,
sailors depended on lighthouses to warn them of dangerous shallow water areas in the Bay.
By 1860, dozens of lighthouses and lightships had come into service
along the Bay’s western shore. Along the Eastern Shore, lighthouses and other navigation aids became just as essential for commercial fishermen.
By 1900, lighthouses or lightships marked the majority of the Bay’s navigational obstacles.
In the early 1900s, Bay lights adjusted to the changing times and new technologies. Oil and kerosene were replaced by electricity and soon fully
automated lighthouses would eventually eliminate the lighthouse keeper's job.
The lights still provide sailors with basic information
about their location. Each lighthouse flashes a different pattern of light to signify their location. Navigation charts show the location of each
light and provide information on the light signal, color pattern of the tower, and fog horn signal. Of the 74 lights that once illuminated Chesapeake waters, more
than 30 still stand, and 23 continue to play important roles as aids to navigation.
Getting ready for the lighthouse cruise
Another thing to do while you are in the Chesapeake area is to take
one of the many Bay lighthouse cruises offered. For instance, Sawyer's
Chesapeake Bay tour includes fascinating lighthouse history and legends.
Taking pictures of one of the lighthouses
A close up of the lighthhouse