“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Olde Towne in Portsmouth, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Lightship Portsmouth


Lightship Portsmouth Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Scott Rollins, June 1, 2009
1. Lightship Portsmouth Marker
Inscription.  Lightships were “floating lighthouses.” They were anchored at the entrances to ports, bays and outer limits to off-lying danger areas such as shoals and reefs. These vessels served as aids to navigation.

Lightships were originally placed where lighthouses could not go or were too expensive to build. They had the advantage of being able to be in deeper waters than a lighthouse, could shift positions and had many types of signals. Disadvantages included that they were expensive to maintain, dangerous in fog and required a crew of 8-15 men who were isolated and exposed to terrible weather.

History of Lightship 101:

1912: Contract for #101 awarded to Pusey and Jones, shipbuilders in Delaware.

1916: #101 was launched and stationed at Smith Island Shoals, Virginia for eight years.

1924: Broke down, was refitted and repaired. Assigned to Overfalls, Delaware.

1939: #101 was changed by the Coast Guard to WAL524.

1951: Withdrawn from duty and overhauled. Assigned to Nantucket Station.

1952: Stationed at Stonehouse Shoals, off the New England coast.

1963: Relief
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and last duty at Cross Rip Shoals in Nantucket Sound.

1964: Broke down en route to Boston and was retired.

1967: City of Portsmouth placed the vessel on the waterfront as a museum.

1989: LIGHTSHIP PORTSMOUTH was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the National Historic Landmarks series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1912.
Location. 36° 50.207′ N, 76° 17.754′ W. Marker is in Portsmouth, Virginia. It is in Olde Towne. Marker is at the intersection of Water Street and London Street, on the right when traveling north on Water Street. This marker is along the Elizabeth River seawall at the west end of London Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Portsmouth VA 23704, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Lightship Portsmouth (within shouting distance of this marker); The Coast Guard (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cornwallis' Embarkation (about 400 feet away); Revolutionary War at Portsmouth (about 400 feet away); Naval Shipyard Museum (about 500 feet away); John Luke Porter (about 600 feet away); The Elizabeth River
Lightship Portsmouth and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Scott Rollins, June 1, 2009
2. Lightship Portsmouth and Marker
(about 600 feet away); Seaboard Air Line Railroad (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portsmouth.
More about this marker. This marker is part of the Portsmouth, VA Path of History.
Regarding Lightship Portsmouth. The Lightship Portsmouth is a National Historic Landmark.
Also see . . .  Lightship Portsmouth Museum. (Submitted on May 31, 2015.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2023. It was originally submitted on July 1, 2009, by Kristin Rollins of Portsmouth, Virginia. This page has been viewed 817 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 1, 2009, by Kristin Rollins of Portsmouth, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 21, 2024