Fort Washington
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

Year Built:1857
Description:Fort Washington White wood tower on the banks of the Potomac River south of Washington DC. Originally a fog bell tower, the structure was adapted as a lighthouse after a nearby one (demolished in 1901) became obstructed by other buildings. Following structural reinforcements by the Army, in 1901 the 28-foot bell tower was equipped with the former lighthouse’s tiny, 6th order Fresnel lens. Now bears a red channel marker; fog bell still present but not operational. The first light on this site was an 18.5 foot iron pole with a light that was hoisted at dusk like a flag. Current structure built in 1882. Owned and maintained by USCG (Coast Guard Activities Baltimore). Located in Fort Washington Park which is managed by the National Park Service. Eligible for listing on National Register of Historic Places.
Type of Structure:Converted bell tower made out of German cut clap-board wood.
Purpose:Built to help guide vessels down the Potomac along a bend in the river.
Interesting Facts:Permission was granted to build the light under the condition that it be built outside the fortification and the keeper be under the direction of the military command. When light was obstructed by new construction, permission to build a higher tower was not funded, so engineers extended the bell tower and put the light on top.
Related Gateway:Fort Washington Park
Photo(s):Fort Washington
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