The United States Coast Guard has declared Virginia’s Wolf Trap Lighthouse unsafe for Coast Guard personnel to access to maintain the light, and they are considering the discontinuance of its beacon.
In 2005, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the Wolf Trap Lighthouse was auctioned off to the highest bidder and sold for $75,000 to a private owner. It was sold again in 2006 for $115,000 to James H. Southard, Jr. of Charleston, South Carolina. Under the terms of the sale the owner must make the lighthouse accessible to the Coast Guard, and the owner is supposed to maintain the historic property.
Although Mr. Stoddard did replace the roof and make some other repairs, he apparently ran out of money, and in 2012 the lighthouse was again on the market. However, since the guidelines of the deed have not been followed, it would seem to us that the federal government should revoke the deed and take the lighthouse back and have it restored before time runs out for this historic structure.
The current Wolf Trap Lighthouse was built in 1894 to replace a screw-pile structure that had been built in 1870 and was destroyed by ice 1892. The current Wolf Trap Lighthouse, located in the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Rappahannock River near Mathews, Virginia, originally housed a 4th order Fresnel lens that was long ago removed. Its last civilian keeper was Floyd Earl Crewe who retired in 1968. One of Crewe’s favorite sayings to others was “We raise everything we eat at the lighthouse.”
This story appeared in the
May/Jun 2017 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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