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St. Michaels in Talbot County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

How the Screwpile Lighthouse Got Its Name

 
 
How the Screwpile Lighthouse Got Its Name Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, November 5, 2011
1. How the Screwpile Lighthouse Got Its Name Marker
Inscription. A screw like this one was at the bottom of each of the seven pilings (legs) of this lighthouse—allowing the leg to be screwed down into the soft Bay bottom. It would have been much easier to simply drive the leg straight down into the mud, but screwing it in diagonally gave the lighthouse a more staple foundation.

The screws also helped keep the lighthouse secure in the winter, when ice froze around the pilings. When the tide rose beneath the ice, it tried to lift the pilings with it, but the screws were designed to hold them fast.

Screwpile lighthouses were a great innovation—they could be built out in the middle of the Bay, and could be seen by boats far from the shore. But winter ice remained their greatest enemy. Even beneath a frozen Bay, the tides rise and fall, lifting and lowering the ice above them. Over a long winter this continuous action can place enormous pressures on a lighthouse’s slender legs. In all thirteen screwpile lighthouses were destroyed by ice and nearly every screwpile lighthouse suffered damage. Only four remain today. Of those, only one is in its original location, the other three—including this one—have been moved to land to preserve them.
 
Location. 38° 47.25′ N, 76° 13.152′ W. Marker is in

How the Screwpile Lighthouse Got Its Name Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, November 5, 2011
2. How the Screwpile Lighthouse Got Its Name Marker
St. Michaels, Maryland, in Talbot County. Marker is on Mill Street. Click for map. This marker is on the grounds of the Chesapeake Maritime Museum. Marker is in this post office area: Saint Michaels MD 21663, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hooper Strait Lighthouse (here, next to this marker); Point Lookout Fog Bell Tower (a few steps from this marker); Miniature Skipjack, Spat (within shouting distance of this marker); The Miles River (within shouting distance of this marker); Too Much of a Good Thing (within shouting distance of this marker); Tolchester Bandstand (within shouting distance of this marker); Rebuilding Rosie Parks (within shouting distance of this marker); Deflecting the Enemy (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Click for a list of all markers in St. Michaels.
 
Categories. Waterways & Vessels
 
How the Screwpile Lighthouse Got Its Name Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, November 5, 2011
3. How the Screwpile Lighthouse Got Its Name Marker
How the Screwpile Lighthouse Got Its Name Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, November 5, 2011
4. How the Screwpile Lighthouse Got Its Name Marker
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 217 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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