"1894-Marking the Shoal that Trapped the HMS WOLF" Top 5 Page for this destination United States of America Off The Beaten Path Tip by grandmaR
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In 1691, the HMS Wolfe sailed along the lower Chesapeake Bay, unaware that concealed beneath the lapping waves was a sharp uprising from deep water to a shallow shoal. The ship struck and stuck. Three months later, the ship would still be trapped there, unable to break free. From that time on, the shoal was named Wolf Trap.
Wolf Trap light is in 16 feet of water on the eastern end of the Wolf Trap Spit south of where the Rappahannock River enters the Chesapeake Bay. It is a caisson tower with its light 52 feet above mean high water.
In the spring of 1870 work was begun on erecting the original screwpile light at Wolf Trap Shoals.
In January of 1893 heavy ice floes cut the lighthouse from it's pilings where it was discovered by the Revenue Cutter Murrill about one mile northwest of the Thimble Light drifting out toward the capes. The light-house was afloat, although nothing but the top of the house and the lantern could be seen. It was a dangerous obstacle to navigation, and it was drifting down onto the channel, where it would be likely to be run into at night. A hawser was got out from the cutter and made fast around the lantern, that being the only part of the light-house where it could be secured. It was a heavy tow, as the light-house was full of water up to the roof, and there was considerable ice on the bay...
The keeper, John William Thomas, was able to escape shortly before the lighthouse was torn lose by making his way over the ice to a nearby tugboat locked in the frozen bay. The illuminating apparatus and most of the portable parts were later recovered from the floating wreck.
The lighthouse was rebuilt in octagonal shape with each side eight feet long. The tower is also eight by eight feet. The new light was first lit on September 20, 1894. The brick lighthouse was painted red about 1930 to protect it from the freezing and thawing action of the salt-water spray.
The light was automated in 1971 and all personnel removed.
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