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Z2 CapeCharles, VA

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The current Cape Charles Light is an octagonal steel skeleton tower lighthouse at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on Smith Island. It is the tallest lighthouse in Virginia and the second tallest in the United States. This particular tower is the third lighthouse at this location. The first lighthouse at Cape Charles was a 55-foot (17 m) masonry tower completed in 1828. It was quickly deemed inadequate for its important seacoast location due to its low height and poor visibility at sea. It was soon threatened by erosion so in 1864 it was replaced by a 150-foot (46 m) masonry tower built further inland. Located a little more than a mile southwest of the old tower and 600 feet from the shoreline, the impressive 150-foot-tall conical brick tower was similar in appearance to the 1857 Cape May Lighthouse, painted white and topped with a dark brown lantern room. In 1892, a twenty-five-foot red band was painted around the white tower’s midsection, about sixty feet up from the base, to make it more visible during the day. By the 1890s, it too was threatened by beach erosion which jetties built to protect it failed to halt, and with the lighthouse now only 300 feet from the ocean and the shoreline eroding at a rate of 37 feet per year it was decided that a third lighthouse needed to be built three quarters of a mile inland.
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