Learn More About Piney Point Lighthouse Museum
The Piney Point Lighthouse Museum is a white two-story structure on the north campus of the park and houses museum exhibits, the Piney Point Museum Store, and offers restrooms and visitor information. Guests are encouraged to begin their visitor experience at the museum where you can sign in, pay admission and obtain a tour guide who will then provide escort to the Potomac River Maritime Exhibit on the north campus and the lighthouse and keeper's quarters on the south campus. Those who desire to climb to the top of the lighthouse will be accompanied by a staff person or volunteer. Museum exhibits focus on the construction and operation of the lighthouse, lighthouse keepers, the role of the United States Coast Guard, and the story of the Black Panther U-1105 German submarine sunk in the Potomac that now serves as Maryland's first historic shipwreck dive preserve.
Learn More About the Potomac River Maritime Exhibit
Also located on the northern campus is the building that houses the collection of four historic wooden vessels on loan from the Paul Hall School of Maritime Training and Education. The collection is comprised of a 67-foot skipjack (Joy Parks), an 84-foot bugeye (Dorothy A. Parsons), a log canoe and Potomac River dory boat. The exhibit focuses on the life of the watermen who sustained a livelihood working the waters of the Potomac for crabs, fish and oysters.
Learn More About Piney Point Lighthouse Oldest Lighthouse on the Potomac River
Built in 1836, the Piney Point Lighthouse and keeper’s quarters are located 14 miles up the Potomac River from the Chesapeake Bay. This beacon stands preserved today as a witness to a bygone era of high society where many from Washington D.C. and beyond would travel to Piney Point for vacation.
The lighthouse and keeper’s quarters were built by master lighthouse builder, John Donahoo, for the contracted price of $3,888. The circular tower stands 35 feet tall from its base to the coping and the walls are 3 feet 10 inches thick at the base and 2 feet 3 inches at the parapet. This lighthouse was the tenth of the 12 lighthouses built by Donahoo in his lifetime.
Time and tide had taken its toll by the time preservation efforts of the Piney Point Lighthouse began in earnest in 1990 by the Museum Division of St. Mary's County Department of Recreation and Parks. The lighthouse was restored, and the outbuildings were renovated and preservation efforts remain ongoing. The lighthouse tower is open for climbing during visitor museum hours of operation and offers a stunning view of the Potomac River and the Piney Point area.
Learn More About the Piney Point Lighthouse Historic Park, Pier & Kayak Launch
Come by boat! The Piney Point Lighthouse Museum & Historic Park is also accessible by boat. The pier connects to the boardwalk that surrounds the lighthouse and picnic area. The scenic riverside venue of the lighthouse offers guests an aesthetic panorama and serene escape with comfortable benches and picnic tables to accommodate an extended visit.
For those coming by land, bring a picnic and enjoy the shaded picnic area near the lighthouse. The beautiful sidewalks and boardwalk make the south campus area handicap accessible. The pier offers a beautiful view of the Piney Point and St. George Island areas. This site is also available for rental for special events. Contact the site supervisor at 301-994-1471 for more information.
The park also offers a kayak launch located on the north campus next to the Potomac River Maritime Exhibit. It rests on the serene waters of the Piney Point Creek and paddlers are invited to discover this lovely Potomac River tributary. Launch is open during staffed hours of operation.