Former James River Lighthouses

and current small beacons


This list contains former lighthouses once located in the James River. It also mentions existing automated beacons, which replaced the lighthouses.

White Shoal | Point of Shoals | Deep Water Shoals | Jordan Point | Dutch Gap Canal


White Shoal Lighthouse (1855 - 1871, 1871 - 1934 / 1970s)
Once located in the James River between the City of Newport News and Isle of Wight county. The hexagonal screwpile was built in 1855, the same time as Deep Water Shoals and Point of Shoals. Confederates raided this light during the Civil War. The inferior structure was completely rebuilt in 1871 and had a fixed white light from a fifth-order Fresnel lens. It stood 33-feet high and had a fog bell. It was sold by the federal government and discontinued. An automated steel tower was placed nearby. The lighthouse outlasted (as a derelict) all other lighthouses in the James River by several decades. It survived until the 1970s when is was carried off by moving ice. Red marker #2 and a 15-foot high green marker #3 are nearest this site.

Point of Shoals Lighthouse (1855 - 1871, 1871 - 1933)
Once located in Burwell Bay in the James River in Isle of Wight County. A small hexagonal screwpile lighthouse was built and first lit up on February 6, 1855. Confederates raided this light during the Civil War. It was damaged by moving ice and was rebuilt in 1871. It was automated in 1932. The lighthouse became unnecessary and was dismantled when the channel was moved towards the opposite side of the river. Some of the piles might still be here, and there is a red marker #8 nearby.

Deep Water Shoals Lighthouse (1855 - 1867, 1868 - 1936 / 1966)
Once located in the James River Northeast of Fort Eustis near the point where the boundaries of the City of Newport News, and the counties of James City, Isle of Wight, and Surry join. Built in 1855, it was a small screwpile lighthouse with a sixth-order Fresnel lens. It was severely damaged by ice and storms in its first year of operation. Confederates raided this light during the Civil War. On January 20, 1867 it was completely destroyed by moving ice. A replacement was built a year later on wood piles. The light was decommissioned in 1936. It was torn down in 1966.
The current light is an automated 34-foot high steel tower built on the original foundation. It displays a 6-second flashing light and has red and white sectors. It also has a bell.
Best View from shore: from Fort Eustis, not far from the airfield.

Jordan Point Lighthouse & Range lights (1855 - 1875, 1875 - 1927)
Once located on the James River near the City of Hopewell. It was first established on February 7, 1855. The original lighthouse was the keeper's quarters with a light on its roof. The house was torn down in 1875 because of shore erosion. A new bell tower had been built and the lantern was placed on top of it. A new dwelling was built in 1888. Because the shore continued to encroach, the house and property was sold in 1927. It was abandoned in the 1930's.
The current light was built in 1941. It is a 65-foot high steel skeleton tower and serves as the Jordan Point Range Rear Light. It has a 6-second flash. The Range Front light is near Indian Point and is 16-feet high.
Best View: from the marina across the street, and from the Rt.156 bridge (southbound).

[Jordan Point]

Dutch Gap Canal Lights (1875 - 1910)
Once located on the James River upriver from the City of Hopewell near the I-295 bridge. Originally located here was the early settlement of the "Citie of Henricus" in 1611. The canal was made by Union troops in 1864 and 1865, while trying to create a short-cut for their gunboats heading to Richmond on this winding river. The incomplete project was abandoned when the war ended. Work on the canal was resumed and was finished in 1871, cutting off nearly 5 miles around what became Farrar's Island. Two 27-foot high light posts were built, one at each end of the canal. The keeper's house was built on a bluff on the island, above the canal. The house was moved inland in 1890 because of the eroding cliff. And the flooding river often carried away the lights. In 1910, the light posts were replaced by fixed lights, and the house was rented. The house eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished. Some ruins remain. The canal was later extended further upriver (called Dutch Gap Cut-Off) and created what is now Hatcher Island. Much of the old channel has dried up or become too shallow for boaters. The area is now Chesterfield County's Henricus Park, but the immediate area of Dutch Gap may actually belong to Henrico County.
Green marker #151 now lights the location.
Best View: Public park. And the gap is quite visible from the I-295 bridge (southbound).

[Dutch Gap]
Dutch Gap Canal Lightkeeper's House foundation and chimney ruins
[Dutch Gap Canal]
(upriver view of the canal)
The old channel runs top to bottom, while the canal runs across the picture.
Note the channel marker.
[Dutch Gap Canal]
(downriver view of the canal)
The river runs to the background. The old channel runs left to right, and the canal begins just off to the left.

1/12/02


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