Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, Baltimore

Part of the Historic Ships in Baltimore attraction is the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse (which is not a ship!).

Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, Baltimore

The lighthouse was built in 1856 to mark the entrances of the Patapsco River and Baltimore Harbor. To secure it in the middle of the water, local iron foundry Murray and Hazelehurst pre-fabricated a screwpile lighthouse. The screwpile design started in 1830s England, specifically for areas with strong currents or soft bottom soil (i.e. no rock foundation). Piles were screwed into the ground, secured with cement, and additionally secured with interconnecting iron tension rods. The piles were designed to hold the lighthouse structure nine feet above normal high tide.

Interconnected supports

The lighthouse was moved in 1988 to Pier 5 in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

The building has three stories. The first was living quarters for the lighthouse keeper. This level still has some examples of the keepers' items as well as a map of the various lighthouses in Maryland.

Map of Maryland lighthouses


Keepers' Oath

The floor also has a display of various warship plaques given to the city over the years. When warships visited Baltimore, official welcoming ceremonies were held. Often, the ship's commander would give a plaque from the ship as a gift. Most of the plaques on display are from United States ships, though there are a few from Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Warship plaques

Also on display is the ship's bell from the SS Danville. The Danville was a steam ship built in Baltimore that served to ferry passengers and cargo along the mid-Atlantic coast in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Bell from the Danville

An impressive model ship

The second floor was where the keepers did their work maintaining the beacon. The third floor houses the Fresnel lens and beacon lamps at a height of forty-two feet above the water (before the lighthouse was moved).

Climbing upstairs

Picture of the Fresnel lens

Fresnel lenses were created by French physicist Augustin Fresnel in 1822. Americans began using them in the 1850s, so this lighthouse was an early adopter.

The lighthouse walkway provides a beautiful view of the harbor and city of Baltimore.

Famous Domino Sugar plant in the distance

North east view from Pier 5

The downtown part of the Inner Harbor

Some of the cool ironwork

Visiting the lighthouse only costs a dollar and is included in the Historic Ships of Baltimore pass. We bought a pass, so the ships will start showing up soon on the blog.

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