kids encyclopedia robot

Seven Foot Knoll Light facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Seven Foot Knoll Light
HISTORIC VIEW, CIRCA 1900 - Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, Mouth of Patapsco River, Riviera Beach, Anne Arundel County, MD HAER MD,2-RIVBE.V,1-37 (Cropped).jpg
Seven Foot Knoll Light at its original location (1900)
Location originally at the mouth of the Patapsco River in the Chesapeake Bay; relocated to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland
Coordinates 39°17′01″N 76°36′19″W / 39.2836°N 76.6054°W / 39.2836; -76.6054 (current)
39°09′18″N 76°24′33″W / 39.1551°N 76.4091°W / 39.1551; -76.4091Coordinates: 39°09′18″N 76°24′33″W / 39.1551°N 76.4091°W / 39.1551; -76.4091 (original)
Year first lit 1856
Automated 1949
Deactivated 1988
Foundation screw-pile
Construction wrought-iron (originally cast-iron)
Tower shape cylindrical house
Height 40 ft (12 m)
Original lens fourth-order Fresnel lens
Range 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi)
ARLHS number USA-750H

The Seven Foot Knoll Light was built in 1855 and is the oldest screw-pile lighthouse in Maryland. It was located atop Seven Foot Knoll in the Chesapeake Bay until it was replaced by a modern navigational aid and relocated to Baltimore's Inner Harbor as a museum exhibit.


It was initially installed on a rocky shoal called Seven Foot Knoll (at 39°09′26″N 76°24′12″W / 39.1572°N 76.4034°W / 39.1572; -76.4034), in the mouth of the Patapsco River. The northern tidal reach of this river is the Baltimore Harbor, where the now-decommissioned lighthouse has been placed as a museum exhibit. In 1997 the lighthouse was transferred to the Baltimore Maritime Museum (now the Historic Ships in Baltimore museum) and is permanently installed at the south end of Pier 5.

The Seven Foot Knoll Light at the south end of Pier 5
The Seven Foot Knoll Light at the south end of Pier 5


Seven Foot Knoll Light exterior construction
An exterior view showing the technique used to join the iron wall sections.

Constructed of 1-inch (25 mm) rolled iron, the lighthouse consists of three main sections. The gallery deck was located 9 feet (2.7 m) above the average high tide waters. The house was the second section, sitting directly atop the gallery deck. This is where the keeper and his family would live. Atop the housing area was the third section of the lighthouse, the light beacon. A 4th order Fresnel lens was housed in the small light compartment. It was visible for 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi).


The first requests for a light came in 1848, with initial appropriations in 1851. Delays in planning and bidding pushed the start of construction to 1854. The house consisted of a cylindrical structure of wrought iron plates, with the ninth pile in the center. Total construction costs came to $43,000 by its completion the following year. Most parts were fabricated in Baltimore at the Murray and Hazelhurst iron foundry. The parts were then shipped to Seven Foot Knoll by boat where they were assembled atop of the screw piles. Ice, the perennial threat to screw-pile structures, caused damage in 1884 and 1894, leading to the piling of 790 cubic yards (600 m3) of riprap around the piles.

1857 U.S. Coast Survey Map or Chart of the Patapsco River, Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore - Geographicus - PatapscoRiver-uscs-1856 (cropped to Seven Foot Knoll)
Seven Foot Knoll depicted on an 1857 survey map.

The light was automated in 1949, and fell into disrepair, eventually being supplanted by a skeleton tower. In 1988, the lighthouse was removed from Seven Foot Knoll, carried by a 1000 Ton Capacity Shearleg derrick, and placed ashore in Baltimore's Inner Harbor where it was donated to the city. On August 22, 1989 the lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Aided by the Lady Maryland Foundation (now the Living Classrooms Foundation), many members of the Steinhice family descendants worked to restore the structure prior to its re-opening.

The lighthouse is a contributing element in the Baltimore National Heritage Area and part of the Historic American Engineering Record.


Thomas Jefferson Steinhise (Keeper 1930–1941) assisted in the rescue of a tugboat crew in 1933. The tugboat Point Breeze was then owned by the Curtis Towing Company of Baltimore. She was towing a barge of dredge spoils from Baltimore to Gibson Island on August 20, 1933. The 90 mph (140 km/h) winds and 15 ft (4.6 m)) seas had overcome the tug and the crew abandoned ship. Steinhice took the lighthouse's small motorboat and made his way out in the direction of the tug's distress whistle where he pulled six crew members from the water. Five crew members survived but the engineer perished. Steinhise was awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal for his actions in saving the lives of the stranded crew. He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Glen Burnie, MD. and his memorial includes a U.S. Lighthouse Service grave-marker.

List of keepers

A list of Head civilian keepers.

Name Year Service Notes
Samuel Ayer 1855–1856
George McCutchen 1856–1860
George Seiber 1860–1861
E. B. Lucas 1861–1865
Thomas Cannon 1865–1867
John H. Wills 1867–1869
Edward B. Lucas 1869–1870
Thomas B. Davis 1870–1872
William Moody 1872–1873
Joel W. McDonald 1873–1874
James T. Bowling 1874–1879
John C. Moffett 1879–1881
John Peterson 1881–1886
Henry Corson 1886–1891
Christopher C. Butler 1891–1892
William K. Slacum 1892–1894
William R. Schoenfelder 1894–1898
John Berentsen 1898–1903
John H. Grain 1903–1916
John L. Ennis 1916-at least 1919
James W. Simpson at least 1921
Otho Bounds 1924–1930
Thomas J. Steinhise 1930–1941 Rescued crew of tug Point Breeze. Awarded Silver Lifesaving Medal.
kids search engine
Seven Foot Knoll Light Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.