Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

065-0071 Cape Charles Light Station

Cape Charles Light Station
Photo credit: Lighthouse Friends, 2018

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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 12/04/2002

NRHP Listing Date 06/23/2003

NRHP Reference Number 03000569

Cape Charles Light Station was constructed in 1894 on Smith Island in Northampton County, replacing an earlier 1864 structure. The Light Station is positioned on the southern tip of the Delmarva peninsula where it marks the east side of the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. The octagonal pyramidal exoskeleton cast-iron tower stands 191 feet tall and continues to serve the maritime community as a signal beacon today. This height makes it the tallest skeletal tower in the country. The Cape Charles Light Station is topped with a cylindrical room housing the spiral staircase, which gives access to the main service gallery and the lantern room. In addition to the light station, the original brick oil house and brick workshop have been retained on the property. The tower at Cape Charles is exceptionally significant in being the only onshore U.S. first-order, cast-iron, skeletal-type lighthouse tower.  The Cape Charles Light Station was listed in the registers under the Light Stations of the United States Multiple Property Document.

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

Updated: February 17, 2023