Lighthouses: The Bay Today
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

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Chesapeake Bay shippingThe Chesapeake Bay is one of the nation's largest commercial and recreational waterways. At the Bay's entrance, the Port of Hampton Roads is the second busiest port on the East Coast, with thousands of cargo vessels plying channels between Hampton Roads and the Port of Baltimore. Bay waters also remain a vital center for large and small commercial fisheries. Each year some 1.5 million-sport anglers venture out on the Bay, mingling with an estimated 500,000 pleasure boaters. This dynamic mix of vessels and uses has added to the challenge of Bay navigation. Although modern mariners typically rely on high-tech global positioning systems (GPS) to chart a course, they still can turn to the Bay's historic lighthouses for help. On land or offshore, like their vanished predecessors, each of the remaining Bay lights has features that allow mariners to identify it: a specific pattern of light flashes, a unique fog signal, and specific exterior colors or markings.

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