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Baltimore Harbor Light facts for kids

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Baltimore Harbor Light
Baltimore Light being fitted with a radioisotope thermoelectric generator on May 20, 1964, making it the first and only nuclear-powered lighthouse in the United States. In the background is the NS Savannah, the first nuclear-powered merchant vessel.
Baltimore Harbor Light is located in Maryland
Baltimore Harbor Light
Baltimore Harbor Light
Location in Maryland
Baltimore Harbor Light is located in the United States
Baltimore Harbor Light
Baltimore Harbor Light
Location in the United States
Location Entrance to the Magothy River, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
Coordinates 39°03′33″N 76°23′56″W / 39.05919°N 76.399°W / 39.05919; -76.399
Year first lit 1908
Automated 1964
Foundation Pneumatic caisson sunk into seabed
Construction Brick
Tower shape Octagonal
Markings / pattern White with brown base
Focal height 52 ft (16 m)
Original lens Fifth order Fresnel lens
Range White 7 nautical miles (13 km; 8.1 mi)
Red 5 nautical miles (9.3 km; 5.8 mi)
Characteristic Baltimore Harbor Light Signal (Fl W 2.5s) Red Sector 082-160.gif
Flashing white 2.5 sec, with one red sector
Fog signal none
Admiralty number J2228
ARLHS number USA-034
USCG number 2-8035

The Baltimore Harbor Light, officially Baltimore Light and historically Baltimore Harbor Lighthouse is a privately owned caisson lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. First lit in 1908, it sits at the mouth of the Magothy River, marking the channel which leads northwest to the opening of the Patapsco River, which then leads into the Baltimore harbor. At the time of its construction, it was the world's tallest caisson lighthouse. In June 2006, Baltimore Light was sold at auction to private owners by the General Services Administration for $260,000; the U.S. Coast Guard maintains rights to operate a light on the structure.

Although a lighthouse had been requested at the site since 1890, it was not until 1904 that construction actually began. In October of that year a violent storm struck the construction site, upturning the caisson and sending it to the bottom of the Bay. The contractor defaulted on the work, and it was not until late in 1905 that construction could resume. The lens was finally installed and the light lit in 1908. It was the last lighthouse to be constructed on the Chesapeake.

In May 1964, the Baltimore Light became the first and only American lighthouse powered by nuclear power, as a test of the SNAP-7B 60 Watt radioisotope thermoelectric generator. One year later the RTG was removed and a conventional electric generator was installed. Currently the lighthouse is solar-powered.

The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Baltimore Light Station on December 2, 2002.

  • Baltimore Light Station, Anne Arundel County, including photo from 1991, at Maryland Historical Trust
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