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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Lewes in Sussex County, Delaware — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Cape Henlopen Lighthouse

Beacon in the Night

 
 
The Cape Henlopen Lighthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, October 2, 2014
1. The Cape Henlopen Lighthouse Marker
Inscription. For more than 150 years, the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse guided ships into Delaware Bay on their way to the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia.

The Cape Henlopen Lighthouse had its beginnings in 1761. Philadelphia merchants and ship owners were concerned by the frequent loss of lives, ships, and cargos in the treacherous waters at the mouth of Delaware Bay. They started a lottery to raise funds to build a lighthouse at Cape Henlopen. Later, the Pennsylvania General Assembly authorized a tax on Philadelphia-bound cargos to finance the project. Completed in 1765, the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse stood for 161 years.

Until it closure in 1924, the beacon atop the stone tower was the main navigational guide for this busy waterway. The lighthouse was abandoned after shoreline erosion undermined its foundation. On April 13, 1926, the lighthouse collapsed into the sea.

Things to know about the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse

• The lighthouse was a 69-foot tall whitewashed stone tower standing on a 46-foot high sand hill, one-quarter of a mile from the Atlantic shore.
• It was built of granite brought from Wilmington.
• The base of the tower was 26 feet in diameter.
• The walls were six feet thick at the base, tapering to just over 3 feet at the top.
• Inside, a spiral stairway led to the light.
• The

The Cape Henlopen Lighthouse image. Click for full size.
By Nate Davidson, October 2, 2014
2. The Cape Henlopen Lighthouse
Located next to the Great Dune marker, within the Fort Miles Historic Site.
lamps first used whale oil, then mineral oil, and finally, vaporized kerosene.
• Originally a single lamp, by 1840 the light was a cluster of 18 lamps, each backed with a 21-inch reflector. This created very bright light, but it could not cast a beam of light out in any direction, as lighthouses do today.
• After the lighthouse was fitted with a new lens in 1855, its central reflector was surrounded by prisms and glass rings to boost the output of light. This addition made the lighthouses capable of aiming a single column of light in any direction.
 
Location. 38° 46.633′ N, 75° 5.2′ W. Marker is near Lewes, Delaware, in Sussex County. Marker can be reached from Dune Road. Touch for map. Located within Cape Henlopen State Park. Marker is in this post office area: Lewes DE 19958, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Great Dune (here, next to this marker); Standing Guard (approx. 0.3 miles away); The U.S. Navy at Cape Henlopen (approx. 0.4 miles away); Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Station (approx. one mile away); Quarantine Station (approx. one mile away); German Submarine at Cape Henlopen
<i>A view of the lighthouse on Cape Henlopen, taken at sea, August 1780</i> image. Click for full size.
1780
3. A view of the lighthouse on Cape Henlopen, taken at sea, August 1780
Illustration in: The Columbian magazine, or, Monthly miscellany. Philadelphia : Printed for Seddon, Spotswood, Cist, and Trenchard, 1788, February, opp. p. 108. Library of Congress.
(approx. one mile away); The Ever Changing Cape Henlopen (approx. 1.3 miles away); Delaware’s Beachnesters (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lewes.
 
Categories. Colonial EraIndustry & Commerce
 
<i> Cape Henlopen Lighthouse Rehoboth Beach, Del.</i> image. Click for full size.
By Harry P. Cann & Bro., circa 1925
4. Cape Henlopen Lighthouse Rehoboth Beach, Del.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 26, 2014, by Nate Davidson of Salisbury, Maryland. This page has been viewed 251 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 26, 2014, by Nate Davidson of Salisbury, Maryland.   3, 4. submitted on November 29, 2014. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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