A Symbol of Transformation
The Pooles Island Lighthouse, the oldest standing lighthouse remaining in Maryland, was relit in 2011 as a symbol of Aberdeen Proving Ground’s transformation and future.
Built in 1825 by John Donahoo of Havre de Grace with $5,000 appropriated by Congress, the lighthouse is located on remote Pooles Island at the mouth of the Gunpowder and Bush Rivers, and is one of three APG structures that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to a paper published by Teresa Kaltenbacher, an environmental planner with Aberdeen Proving Ground, the lighthouse is a 40-foot land-based masonry tower standing, with a cast-iron lantern at the top. The rough cut granite used for the tower was locally quarried in Port Deposit, Maryland. The existing door, believed to be an original, is made out of mahogany.
For two centuries, the island was used for farming and known for its rich, fertile soil. In 1917, the island became part of Aberdeen Proving Ground and was used for testing. In 1994 the Army petitioned to have the lighthouse placed on the National Historic Register with the intent to fully restore the tower. APG, Coast Guard and National Park Service personnel, and volunteers restored the exterior in 1997.
As part of the process in 1994 to make the lighthouse a National Historic Monument, the structure had to be thoroughly cleaned and structurally stabilized in a historically accurate manner. The lighthouse was last restored in 1996.
The lighthouse blinks in a four- three pattern to alert mariners to their location.