Fort Washington Light


Located on the Potomac River at Fort Washington National Park
in The State of Maryland.

[Ft. Wash. Light]


Although this light is in Maryland, it is important for boats navigating the Potomac.

At some point the lantern was removed and replaced with a tiny red light. The old sixth-order lantern is on display at the Oyster and Maritime Museum in Chincoteague, VA. This was originally a fog bell tower, and the bell is still present. The bell tower is now used as red channel marker #80. The photo on the next page was taken from atop the fortress' bastion. Virginia is visible across the river. (Fort Hunt is at that position but it is hidden among the trees). Although not shown, downtown Washington can also be seen from the bastion.

More Photos of Fort Washington.

In 1857, a cast-iron column 18 feet high was erected with a small light on it. This light was inadequate, so a lighthouse was built in 1870. It had a sixth-order Fresnel lens. After several boathouses and other small buildings were built near the lighthouse, the light became obstructed. The fog bell tower stood closer to the water than the old lighthouse, and it was decided to move the lighthouse's lantern to it. The lighthouse was torn down in 1901. After the light in the bell tower was automated, the keeper's quarters, built in 1884, was also torn down.

Fort Warburton was built here in 1809, but it was destroyed in order to keep it from falling into British hands in 1814 (the Bristish had already captured Washington D.C. after going up the Patuxent River instead of the Potomac). Fort Washington was built on the same site in 1824. In 1939 it was transferred to the Department of the Interior. During World War II the War Department regained control. The National Park Service began administration of the fort in 1946. The park is open to the public year round.

Learn more about Fort Washington.


return to port continue tour