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Coltons Point in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

A Target for Big Guns

 
 
A Target for Big Guns Marker image. Click for full size.
By F. Robby, September 12, 2009
1. A Target for Big Guns Marker
Inscription. In 1918, the United States War Department established the Dahlgren Proving Grounds in King George County, Virginia. Military leaders who had observed the death and destruction of World War I wanted more accurate and effective large guns for future wars. The island, 15 miles down river, became a landing area for giant artillery shells that could be recovered for study.

"In the proper development of this [Dahlgren] proving ground it has been found necessary in order to provide an adequate range for the large guns, to acquire a small island in the lower Potomac River, known as 'Blackistone [St. Clement's] Island'....The island is in the direct line of fire of guns on the proving ground and its immediate acquisition by the United States is highly desirable if not imperative."

[photo of lighthouse] The Blackistone Island Lighthouse, a two story brick dwelling with a light tower, was completed in 1851 at a cost of $4,535. The light was put out by Confederate raiders in 1864 but was soon back in action and remained in service until 1932.

[photo of lighthouse remains] The Blackistone Island Lighthouse was one of four lighthouses used as firing range stations by the Dahlgren Proving Ground. After the lighthouse caught fire in 1856, the Federal Government leveled the structure with dynamite. Only the oil
A Target for Big Guns Marker image. Click for full size.
By F. Robby, September 12, 2009
2. A Target for Big Guns Marker
shed still stands today.


[photo of Francis and Roger Butterfield] Francis Butterfield, Sr., and his son Roger Butterfield on St. Clement's Island at the end of World War II. Francis Butterfield is wearing his island custodian uniform. A former owner of Blackistone Island, Francis worked as the island caretaker and watchman for the United States Navy Department.
 
Erected by Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
 
Location. 38° 12.482′ N, 76° 44.669′ W. Marker is in Coltons Point, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Point Breeze Road 0.2 miles east of Colton Point Road (Maryland Route 242). Touch for map. Marker is on St. Clements Island which is only accessibly by boat. A ferry operates on weekends from the St. Clement's Island Museum on Point Breeze Road. Marker is in this post office area: Coltons Point MD 20626, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Welcome to St. Clement's Island (within shouting distance of this marker); Blackistone Island Lighthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); "With a laudable and pious zeal..." (within shouting distance of this marker); St. Clement's Island (within shouting distance of this marker); "...one of the pleasantest summer resorts on the Potomac" (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Shrinking Island (about 700 feet away); Maryland Began Here! (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Welcome to St. Clement's Island (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Coltons Point.
 
Categories. 20th CenturyMilitaryWar, World I
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 7, 2009, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 658 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 7, 2009, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland.
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