Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2024

Lightship Captain and Lighthouse Keeper honored in Baltimore

By Greg Krawczyk


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Shown are members of the Bowling family graveside ...
Photo by: Greg Krawczyk

On the morning of Saturday, October 14th, the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society held a small dedication ceremony of the U.S. Lighthouse Service Marker installed at the grave of Captain Joseph I. Bowling in Baltimore Cemetery, Baltimore. He was a former merchant captain and at age 50 decided to try life off of a ship, not necessarily ashore. From October 1893 to October 1895, he served as the 1st assistant lighthouse keeper at the Maryland Point Lighthouse on the upper Potomac River. His assignment or service between 1895 and 1897 is uncertain, but he shifted to working on light vessels in 1897. As a side note, the floating lighthouses in the Lighthouse Service were known as both “Light Vessels” and “Lightships” up until 1925 when the Lighthouse Service formally designated them as only “Lightships.”

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Photo by: Greg Krawczyk

Joseph Bowling first served as Mate of LV-49 on the Cape Charles Light Station from 1897 to 1899. In June 1899 he was appointed as Master of LV-69 on the Diamond Shoal Light Station. Three months after becoming Master, the LV-69 struggled through a major storm, probably a hurricane. The lightship was washed off station and onto the beach of North Carolina. All of the crew was saved, as was the ship. But while the damage was being repaired, the entire crew including Captain Bowling, transferred to the newly completed LV-71 and resumed the Diamond Shoal Light Station. A few years later he transferred to the LV-46 on the Tail of the Horseshoe Light Station serving as Master until he resigned in 1911.

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The grounded LV-69 Diamond Shoals Lightship. ...

It was a pleasure to honor this lighthouse keeper and lightship sailor, who was the brother of James Bowling, a lighthouse keeper that was honored in June 2023 along with his wife Margaret, also a lighthouse keeper. This was the last installation and ceremony of 2023 for the Chesapeake Chapter and the 46th since the program started in 2016. The Chesapeake Chapter wishes express thanks to its members, as their dues help fund this program to honor Chesapeake Bay Lighthouse Keepers and Lightship Sailors.

For more on this program or to volunteer to be a member of our Maryland or Virginia Grave Marker Teams, please visit the web page: cheslights.org/programs/program-lighthouse-keeper-grave-marker-2/

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2024 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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