The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is participating in this year’s Maryland Lighthouse Challenge, which takes place Sept. 21-22, 2019, with an early bird date of Friday, Sept. 20 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse now at CBMM is one of 11 Chesapeake lighthouses featured in this year’s tour.
Sponsored by the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, the challenge is a bi-annual “road rally” held in September at participating lighthouses and lightships along the Chesapeake Bay. Other participating lighthouses for this year’s challenge include Concord Point, Seven Foot Knoll, Choptank River Replica, Drum Point, Cove Point, Piney Point, Point Lookout, Fort Washington, Sandy Point Shoal, and the Lightship Chesapeake. Bonus lighthouses include Millers Island and Blackistone.
Individuals and groups are encouraged to participate by visiting all 11 lighthouses and the lightship, collecting specially-designed commemorative souvenirs from each. Participants can visit any number of lighthouses along the challenge route, but will have to visit all mandatory stops to collect a specially designed souvenir to mark the accomplishment.
The Hooper Strait Lighthouse, now standing on Navy Point, was originally built in 1879 to light the way for boats passing through the shallow, dangerous shoals of Hooper Strait, a thoroughfare for boats bound from the Chesapeake Bay across Tangier Sound to Deal Island or places along the Nanticoke and Wicomico rivers. Saved from demolition, the lighthouse was moved by barge to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. in 1966, one year after the non-profit museum opened. It now serves as a hands-on exhibition that explores the life of a lighthouse keeper, and a venue for CBMM’s Lighthouse Overnight Adventures program for youth groups.
As a “screwpile” lighthouse, it is built on special iron pilings which were tipped with a screw that could be turned into the muddy bottom for a depth of 10 feet or more. CBMM’s lighthouse is the second lighthouse constructed at Hooper Strait—the first one was destroyed by ice in 1877.
The 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse at CBMM will be open from 9am–7pm as an early bird lighthouse on Friday, Sept. 20, with $5 reduced admission for lighthouse challenge participants offered for the entire three-day challenge weekend. The lighthouse will be open from 8am–6pm for challenge participants on Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept. 22, with more information at cbmm.org or cheslights.org.