Former York River Lighthouses

and current small beacons

This list contains former lighthouses once located on the southern peninsula and in or near the York River. It also mentions existing automated beacons, which replaced the lighthouses.

Back River | York Spit | Tue Marshes | Pages Rock | Bells Rock

Back River Lighthouse (1829 - 1936 / 1956)
Once located onshore between the Back River entrance and the Grandview area of the City of Hampton. It was built in 1829, six miles north of Old Point Comfort. The white 30 foot tower was built near the water but the keeper's house was 144 feet farther inland. The land here was marshy, so a footbridge was built between the house and tower. Confederates ruined the light in 1862. The house was enlarged one story in 1894 because of the keeper's growing family. The light was automated in 1915 but discontinued in 1936 and fell into disrepair. Everything was destroyed by a hurricane in 1956. The site of the tower is now in the surf. A pile of rocks marks the site in the photograph.

[Back River]

York Spit Lighthouse (1870 - 1960)
Once located in the Chesapeake Bay northeast of the City of Poquoson. A lightship was stationed here beginning in 1855. It was taken by Confederates in 1861. A second lightship was stationed here from 1863 to 1864. A temporary lightship served here during the construction of the lighthouse in 1869. The woodpile lighthouse was established November 15, 1870. It was dismantled in June 1960.
The current light is a 30-foot high automated beacon displaying a 6-second flash.
Best View from shore: It is not visible from shore due to extreme distance.

Tue Marshes Lighthouse (1875 - 1960)
Once located off Tue Point on the Goodwin Islands at the entrance to the York River in York County. It was a square screwpile and entered service on August 15, 1875. The house was removed in 1960.
The current light is an automatic beacon installed in 1960 on the original foundation. It is 41-feet high and has a 6-second flash.
Best View from shore: through private property on Jenkins Neck (past Achilles). It is barely visible due to extreme distance.

Pages Rock Lighthouse (1893 - 1967)
Once located in the York River off Blundering Point in Gloucester County, 5 miles north of Yorktown. It was a woodpile lighthouse whose cottage was assembled at the Lazaretto Depot in Maryland. It was commissioned on September 30, 1893. A fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed. It was automated in 1960. The 41-foot high wooden house was dismantled in 1967.
The current light has a 6-second flashing light which was installed on the original foundation in 1967. The light is 43-feet high.
Best View from shore: not visible due to private properties.

Bells Rock Lighthouse (1881 - 1928)
Once located in the York River 20 miles upriver from Yorktown, a mile or two downriver rom the Town of West Point. It was built in 1881 and was a 40-foot high hexagonal screwpile. The intended cottage was assembled in 1880 at the Lazaretto Depot in Maryland, but was sent to Thimble Shoal after that lighthouse burned down. A second cottage was built in February 1881 for Bells Rock. It had a fourth-order Fresnel lens. In June 1884, it was hit by a schooner and three support columns were broken. It was dismantled in 1928.
The current light has an automatic 4-second light on a 40-foot high steel tower built on the original foundation. The light has red and white sectors.
Best View from shore: look upriver from the beach at a trailer park off Rural Route 666 (near Belleview) in King and Queen County.


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