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Piney Point Lighthouse and Museum

Updated: May 25, 2018

The Piney Point Lighthouse was known as "The Lighthouse of Presidents". It was built in 1836 is located 14 miles up the Potomac River from the Chesapeake Bay. Located on a thin stretch of land between the Potomac and Saint Mary's rivers in southern Maryland, the Piney Point area once served as a retreat area for US Presidents such as Monroe, Pierce, and Theodore Roosevelt.

The circular tower stands 35 feet tall from and the walls are 3 feet 10 inches thick at the base and 2 feet 3 inches at the parapet. The lighthouse was built in 1836 and had a range of 10 nautical miles. A bell tower was added in 1880 and was in service until 1954 when Hurricane Hazel damaged it beyond repair. The bell is still on display near the lightkeeper's quarters.

The federal government deeded the property to St. Mary's County in 1980 and the county renovated and opened the lighthouse and grounds in 1990. There is a small museum on the grounds with exhibits on the lighthouse, the US Coast Guard, the Piney Point area, and the story of the Black Panther U-1105 German submarine sunk in the Potomac that now serves as a shipwreck dive preserve.

I climbed to the top of the the lighthouse, and while the climb is short, the staircase and narrow ladder at the top are quite precarious. But there was a nice view from the top.

There also is an observation area on the grounds to view the Potomac and the beautiful surroundings. It was a quite lovely day out.

In a separate, unassuming, building on the grounds the Potomac River Maritime Exhibit displays four historic wooden vessels. This exhibit is OUTSTANDING. It is very well done and very well presented.


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