This 38-foot lighthouse, built in 1827, has changed remarkably little during its long existence. That's largely because builder John Donohoo, who bungled his first lighthouse job at Thomas Point two years earlier, took no chances. Another reason he set high standards for himself this time around: He served several terms as Havre de Grace Town Commissioner between 1819 and 1839.
Nearly four-feet thick at the base, the walls of the lighthouse were built with Port Deposit granite. Although the lamps in the lighthouse were upgraded several times over the years, the tower itself has required virtually no major repairs.
Until 1920, when the light was automated, a member of the O'Neill family always held the lighthouse keeper job. The original keeper, John O'Neill, was awarded the job in recognition of his bravery during the War of 1812. When the rest of the local militia fled at the approach of British ships under the command of Admiral George Cockburn, O'Neill singlehandedly held off the enemy until he was captured. He was saved from hanging by his 15-year-old daughter Matilda, who rowed out to Cockburn's ship to passionately defend her father. In addition to releasing the prisoner, Cockburn gave Matilda his gold-mounted, tortoiseshell snuff box.
To visit Concord Point Lighthouse, the oldest on Chesapeake Bay, take State 155 off I-95 into Havre de Grace. Concord Point is near the Susquehanna River in the southeast part of town. Open to the public, the lighthouse is maintained by the Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse.
Text © 1999 Terry White, Drawing © 1999 Bill Harrah
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