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Cape Henry Lighthouse

Standing proudly at the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, the Cape Henry Lighthouse is a historic landmark that has guided mariners for over two centuries. Located in Virginia Beach, VA, this iconic lighthouse holds a significant place in American history and remains a cherished symbol of the region’s maritime heritage.

History and Significance: The Cape Henry Lighthouse holds the distinction of being the first federally funded lighthouse in the United States. Its construction was authorized by President George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton, making it a testament to the nation’s early commitment to maritime safety. The lighthouse was designed to aid ships entering the Chesapeake Bay, serving as a crucial navigational beacon. More

Construction and Architecture: The original Cape Henry Lighthouse, completed in 1792, was a 90-foot tall octagonal structure made of sandstone and painted with distinctive black and white stripes. It featured a circular lantern room that housed the light source, providing a visible signal to ships at sea. In 1881, due to concerns about erosion, a new cast-iron lighthouse was built nearby. The old lighthouse, now referred to as the “Old Cape Henry Lighthouse,” was decommissioned but has been preserved as a historic site.

Visiting the Cape Henry Lighthouse: Today, the Cape Henry Lighthouse is part of the Fort Story military base and is open to the public for guided tours. Visitors can climb the 191 steps to the top and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding coastline and the Chesapeake Bay. Along the way, informative exhibits recount the history of the lighthouse and its significance to maritime navigation.

The Experience: Stepping inside the Cape Henry Lighthouse is like stepping back in time. The narrow spiral staircase, worn stone walls, and vintage artifacts transport visitors to an era when lighthouse keepers diligently tended to the light. As you ascend, each step brings you closer to the stunning vistas awaiting at the top. On a clear day, the view extends as far as the eye can see, offering a glimpse into the lighthouse keeper’s world and the challenges they faced in guiding ships safely to shore. Next Article