The original lighthouse
on this site was first lit on October 28, 1850. The
lighthouse replaced a lightship that had marked the
shoal since 1823. The 1850 lighthouse the first screw
pile lighthouse to be constructed in the United
States. In 1914 it was replaced by the current caisson
type lighthouse. The light was automated in 1974.
Within the last couple of years it has been converted
to solar power.
Brandywine Shoal Lightship
Early government records refer to this lightship as
Floating Light #1 or Lightboat #1. It was stationed on
Brandywine Shoal from 1823-1850, and was replaced by the
Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse. The vessel was anchored about
1 mile west of the Brandywine Shoal and marked the eastern
edge of the channel. Lightship "N" was the only vessel to
be stationed there. She was built in 1823 in New York,
probably by Henry Eckford, and was 72' long with a 20'
beam and of about 120 gross tons. She had two masts, and
displayed at fixed white light on the foremast at 42' and
on the mainmast at 45'. She had a hand operated bell. No
drawings of her have yet been found.
An 1838 report by William D. Porter, Lieutenant, U.S.N.,
describes the lightship as:
Fifteen years old; very much out of
order, requires thorough repairs. The cause of rot in our
light vessels can be attributed to the following causes:
want of care and proper ventilation, and the mephitic
vapor arising from bilge water. All the caused can be
obviated by the use of the common wind sail (or tin or
copper ventilators) and the inverted bellows, as used on
board the vessels of the Navy, which has proved of decided
benefit in expelling the noxious vapors arising in a
After her service at Brandywine Shoal, the vessel was
transferred to Minots Ledge in Massachusetts for four
years. Her next station was at Cross Rip, Massachusetts,
after which she served a short stint on Five Fathom Bank
(1855). She was retired in 1859.