Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse

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Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland
Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland

The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse was built in 1856 and is the oldest screwpile lighthouse in Maryland. It was removed from the shallow shoal it had been sitting on, Seven Foot Knoll, in 1989 after 133 years. The location of the shoal is at the mouth of the Patapsco River, whose northern reach makes up the Baltimore Harbor.

Constructed of 1" rolled iron, the lighthouse consists of three main sections. The galley deck was located 9 feet above the average high tide waters. The house was the second section, sitting directly atop the galley deck. This is where the keeper and his family would live. Atop the housing area was the third section of the lightshoue, the light beacon. A 4th order Fresnel lens was housed in the small light compartment. It was visible for 12 miles.

The cost of the lighthouse was $43,000.00 when it was constructed in 1856. Most of the parts were prefabricated in Baltimore at the Murray and Hazelhurst iron foundry. The parts were then shipped to Seven Foot Knoll by boat where they were assembled atop of the screw piles.

A light-keeper and his family would have stayed on the lighthouse year-round with 8 days off per month. One of the lighthouses more famous keepers, William Steinheise, rescued 5 men from their tugboat which had broken down on August 21, 1933. The 90mph winds and 15 foot seas had rendered the tug inoperable. Steinheise, took the lighthouse's small motorboat and made his way out in the direction of the tug's distress whistle. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Valor for his actions in saving the lives of the stranded crew.

After World War II the Coast Guard automated the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse but it shortly became neglected and not worth repairing. It was eventually replaced by the Coast Guard with a navigation buoy. In 1989, the lighthouse was removed from Seven Foot Knoll, carried by barge, and placed ashore in Baltimore's historic Inner Harbor where it was donated to the city.

In 1997 the lighthouse was transferred to the Baltimore Maritime Museum where it is located today.

See also: List of lighthouses and lightvessels

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