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Home > About the Chesapeake > Exploring the Bay > Chesapeake Bay Lighthouses
Chesapeake Bay Lighthouses
Chesapeake Bay Lighthouses

The Chesapeake Bay is more than a beautiful body of water—it’s a complex, changeable and sometimes dangerous natural wonder. The Bay is a place where water, human activities and nature’s power intersect at every turn. For every calm inlet and tranquil cove, there are miles of open water where ocean tides surge, and in a heartbeat blue skies can blacken with looming storms. For mariners, the sum of these parts has been a daunting mix of fair weather and foul, broad channels and convoluted tributaries, shallow water and life-threatening shoals.

How have mariners found their way safely through the Bay? From colonial times until the advent of modern satellite technology, lighthouses literally rose to the challenge of guiding vessels through the Bay’s channels and byways.

Guiding Lights
Guiding Lights Early navigation aids on the Chesapeake such as buoys and signal fires were unreliable. As travel and commerce increased on the Bay so to did the need for a reliable means of navigation.
Keeping The Lights On - A 24/7 Job
Keeping the Lights On While not an easy task the role of the lighthouse keeper was crucial to ensuring safe passage for the many ships that travel the Bay. Learn more about the brave and dedicated lighthouse keepers.
Bay Features and Forces
Bay Features and Forces Understanding the physical features and natural processes that shape the Chesapeake Bay can lead to a greater appreciation of why the Bay can be treacherous for boats to navigate.
The Bay Today
The Bay Today Today the Chesapeake Bay is one of the nations largest commercial and recreational waterways. Learn more about the role and importance of the Chesapeake Bay in this section.
A Map of Lighthouses Today
Map of Lighthouses Today Of the 74 lights that once illuminated Chesapeake waters, over 30 still stand - 23 of which play important roles as aids to navigation. Learn more about the lighthouses of the Chesapeake.
Lighthouse Lore
Lighthouse Lore In 1806, the keeper of the Cape Henry light was paid only about $16 a month for his services. Find more interesting and unusual facts about lighthouses in this section about lighthouse lore.
Form Followed Function
Form Followed Function Ever wonder what inspires the design of a particular lighthouse? Or why there are so many different kinds of lighthouses. Learn what inspired the designs of many of the Bay lighthouses.
Diagram of a lighthouse
Diagram of a Lighthouse Take a virtual tour of one of the Bay's most popular lighthouses, Thomas Point Lighthouse. Using the interactive diagram you can learn about some of its major features.
For more information on Bay Lighthouses, visit the U.S. Lighthouse Society, Chesapeake Chapter. The Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society is a membership organization supporting preservation of Chesapeake Bay lighthouses. The Chesapeake Chapter runs a variety of trips and programs.

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