For the second time in six years, a weathered historic lighthouse is sold at auction. In a last-minute flurry of bids, the rundown 150-year-old structure sold for $115,000.
The Craighill Channel Lower Range Front Light Station turned 150 years old this year. Sitting at the mouth of the Patapsco River about two miles offshore from North Point State Park, it’s located close to where the container ship Ever Forward ran aground in 2022 and remained stuck in 20 feet of Bay bottom for 35 days.
The Craighill Channel lighthouse is a cassion-type station first lit in 1873. It is cylindrical, holding a 1.5-story keeper’s quarters with a deck around the perimeter. It rests on driven wood piles. A cast-iron lantern room sits atop the structure about 25 feet above the water’s surface.
The lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A keeper and an assistant lived there until 1964, when the light became automated. It still lights one boundary of the Craighill Channel.
It’s a primitive piece of real estate: the Alex Cooper Auctioneers online auction page states there are no public utilities available.
The light station went up for auction Nov. 30, starting at $20,000. After four days, bids were sitting at a modest $35,000. But in a span of just a few hours before the auction closed Dec. 5, activity picked up and the winning bid reached $115,000.
A bit of fine print on the sale: the auction includes the light station structure only, not the Bay bottom beneath it. The buyer must also give the Coast Guard access to the property for navigational use, as it is contains active aids to navigation.
The lighthouse last sold in 2017, auctioned off by the U.S. government, sold after the nonprofit owner group, Historic Place Preservation Inc., was unable to raise the half-million dollars it would require to preserve the lighthouse. Cathy Taylor, a member of the previous ownership group, told Chesapeake Bay Magazine contributor Marty LeGrand in an upcoming feature story that it’s difficult to raise money for a lighthouse that most people can’t see.
That 2017 auction ended with a high bid of $96,000 from an undisclosed buyer. Since then, the Lighthouse Society says no work appears to have been done.
-Meg Walburn Viviano