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Thursday, 3 August 2017

The 2017 Maryland Lighthouse Challenge

Coming This September - The 2017 Maryland Lighthouse Challenge
by Karen Rosage, Chesapeake Chapter United States Lighthouse Society

Cove Point Lighthouse
Mark your calendars now for the 11th Anniversary of Maryland’s premier lighthouse event. The 2017 Maryland Lighthouse Challenge will take place on Saturday and Sunday, September 16th and 17th, with an early bird date on Maryland’s Eastern shore of Friday, September 15th. The mandatory lights along this year’s Challenge route (in north to south order) will be Concord Point in Havre de Grace, Hooper Strait in St. Michaels, Choptank River Lighthouse Replica in Cambridge, Cove and Drum Points in Solomons, Point Lookout At Point Lookout State Park, Piney Point in the village of Piney Point and Fort Washington Light in Fort Washington Park. Visit any number of these attractions during the official Challenge hours of 8:00 am-6:00 pm (either day), and receive a complimentary souvenir at each. Visit them all over the course of the two days allotted and receive a special souvenir proclaiming that “You’ve Seen the Lights!” The lighthouses can be visited in any order and you can complete your Challenge adventure and receive your completion souvenir at any of these locations.

Bonus Light - Millers Island Lighthouse
The Bonus Lights along the Challenge route include Blackistone Replica on St. Clements Island
(Maryland’s Birthplace), Millers Island Lighthouse, viewable from the Dock of the Bay Restaurant in Sparrows Point, and Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse, visible from one of the state’s most popular state parks.

Captain Dave Schauber of Sawyer Charters will again be offering a Bonus Cruise, to see some of the Bay’s more elusive lighthouses. The all-day excursion will be offered Thursday, September 14th, Friday September 15th, and Monday September 18th. The price is $125.00 per person and includes a stop for lunch on Smith Island where you will have the chance to partake in some legendary Maryland seafood and the official dessert of the state – a delectable slice of Smith Island Cake.

Please note that the cruise and/or visiting the Bonus attractions does not count toward event completion, but will earn Challengers extra souvenirs and bragging rights! All attractions along the route whether mandatory or bonus are well worth the visit, so plan to include as many into your Challenge itinerary as you are able.

Cruise Light - Hooper Island Lighthouse
The Challenge Rack Card is available to download at Use it to begin to chart your course. Detailed driving directions and instructions will be posted on the Chesapeake Chapter website in the very near future, where you will find the latest updates. No other event in Maryland’s history gives lighthouse enthusiasts the opportunity to explore so many of the state’s lighthouses. Perched at some of the most beautiful locations, we are proud to have every architectural style of Maryland lighthouse represented. It is the one time the lighthouses are all open simultaneously, wherever possible. There is so much to discover along the Challenge route, you will be enlightened in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

Fifteen years ago, as a new Chesapeake Chapter Board Member, I was asked to chair the inaugural run of the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge.  I did a little research, met with some folks who were involved in the New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge, the event we were fashioning our event after, and decided to give it a go.  In all but the Challenge’s second year, when coordination was more of a group effort, I chaired the event. This culminated in my being given a Chapter moniker, the Challenge Contessa, a name I wear proudly.  As coordinator of the event I am often asked what I enjoy most about the Challenge and what has been the most worthwhile aspect of the event to me, personally.  My reply is always the same.  I love that we are showcasing the Chesapeake’s distinct and varied “styles” of lighthouses. Who after all, doesn’t love a lighthouse?   People admire their architectural and aesthetic appeal.  The lighthouses sit at some of the state’s prettiest waterside locations and they are so photogenic. Pictures taken with them really are pretty as postcards! But what I love most is that, concomitantly, the Challenge gives people an opportunity to learn about the lighthouses’ historical significance and the stories of the brave men and women who faithfully kept watch over them. It is said that there is something romantic, almost mysterious, about the structures themselves and often the unsung heroes, the men and women of the Lighthouse Service and U.S. Coast Guard who worked diligently, often under tough and lonely circumstances to keep the lights lit. It was a hard-earned badge of honor.

Drum Point Lighthouse
There have been times throughout history when Keepers have truly been called into action. This year we are delighted to showcase one such keeper during the Challenge. Descendants of one of the most famous of all Maryland Keepers, Thomas J. Steinhise, will join us at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse. Keeper Steinhise served at this lighthouse for 10 1/2 years of his “illuminating” career, from 1930 to 1941. During his time there, he is credited with what is regarded as the most miraculous save by a keeper in Maryland waters. For his truly heroic efforts in saving five crewmen from a foundering tugboat during a nor’easter that hit the state in 1933, he was awarded the Commerce Department's Silver Life Saving Medal.

Chesapeake Lightship
I would like to take the opportunity here to thank Maryland’s lighthouse organizations and our sponsors through which this event is made possible. Together, we are able to shine the light on such an important aspect of the state’s maritime history, and share it with lighthouse enthusiasts from near and far.

The Challenge is one weekend occurring every two years the Chesapeake Chapter sets aside to celebrate Maryland’s Bay area beacons. Don’t miss out on the fun; don’t miss out on the adventure. There is so much to see, so much to enjoy, and so much to learn!

The Maryland Lighthouse Challenge – Making Maryland Memories…one lighthouse at a time!

Note: All photos by Donna Suchomelly

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