Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park

Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park

Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park is a six-acre park that provides space for a variety of outdoor activites, but also a wonderful museum showcasing the oldest lighthouse on the Potomac River. 

The museum and park preserve interpret the Piney Point Lighthouse, a collection of historic Chesapeake Bay workboats and other features of this scenic Potomac River site.

In addition to the museum on the property, the surrounding park is popular for birding. There is also a picnic area, kayak launch, boardwalk, pier, and beach (although swimming and fishing is prohibited).

Enter Your Location

Hours

Museum and gift shop:

Open March 25th through December 30th:

  • 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily

Park:

  • Daily from sunrise to sunset

Museum Closed:

  • New Year's Day
  • Easter Sunday
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Day After Thanksgiving (Black Friday)
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)

Fees

Admission to Lighthouse and Museum:

  • $7 per adult
  • $3.50 for senior citizens
  • $3.50 formilitary personnel
  • $3.50 for students 6 to 18
  • Free for children 5 and under

History

Historical Significance of the Site

During the War of 1812, British ships were a common sight at the mouth of the Potomac River. Southern Maryland’s proximity to Washington, DC, its deep natural waters, and its numerous farms and tobacco plantations made it an attractive target for British raiding parties. No other region of the Chesapeake experienced more raids and skirmishes.  The British carried out a particularly destructive campaign of burning and looting in the spring of 1813.  Under the command of Adm. Sir John B. Warren, they destroyed farms and towns and terrorized residents.  The British also occupied islands near Piney Point, including St. George Island.

Constructed in 1836, the Piney Point Lighthouse sits on a site once visited by Washington dignitaries including several U.S. presidents.  The site's museum details the area's history and also includes an exhibit of the WWII U-1105 Black Panther German submarine, which lies just offshore in an area designated as the state’s first Historic Shipwreck Dive Preserve.

Importance to the Chesapeake

Piney Point Lighthouse served as a beacon of safety for mariners of the Potomac River from the time it was built in 1836 until 1964.

Located only 14 miles from the mouth of the Potomac River, Piney Point Lighthouse was constructed by master lighthouse builder, John Donahoo, who also built many of the lighthouses throughout Chesapeake. Piney Point is one of the oldest of the 11 original lighthouses built on the Potomac River and one of only four remaining. The museum's collection of historic workboats includes the skipjack Joy Parks, a bugeye, Potomac River dory boat and a log canoe.

The Piney Point Lighthouse Museum features exhibits depicting the construction and operation of the Lighthouse and the role of the United States Coast Guard. Also on exhibit is information about the German submarine, U-1105, that was sunk off the coast of Piney Point. This submarine is notable as an initial prototype of stealth weaponry as this vessel was rubber coated to prevent radar detection.

Activities

Walk the grounds, visit the Museum and view the Lighthouse.

There are a variety of exhibits in the musuem that have a significance to the Potomac region including:

  • WWII U-1105 Black Panther German submarine
  • The Potomac River Maritime Exhibit
  • Watermen's story

There are also several other activities that are popular in the park surrounding the Museum such as: 

  • Birding
  • Kayaking
  • Picnicing
  • Walking the boardwalk and pier

Facilities

The park includes a museum, school programs, restrooms, gift shop, pier and docking facilities.

Accessibility

Museum, maritime exhibit and boardwalk are handicap-accessible. 

Main image: Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park
Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail
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