Until the early 1930s, the entrance to the Severn River into Annapolis was marked by a lighthouse not unlike the postcard-worthy Thomas Point Shoal Light a bit farther south.
What Annapolis boaters used to refer to as the “spider buoy” had its origins as a hexagonal, cottage-style lighthouse on a seven-screwpile foundation. The Greenbury Point Shoal Light was lit in 1892 to mark the shoal. Badly damaged by ice in 1918, the cottage structure was removed 15 years later and replaced by an automatic light on a skeleton tower on top of the original screwpile structure.
Following the unceremonious decapitation of the spider buoy the previous summer, on October 21, 2008, with so little fanfare that the Annapolis Harbormaster didn’t even hear about it until it was over, the 75-foot U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) cutter Sledge crew completed the removal of the lighthouse’s structure from the mouth of the Severn River. Two dolphin-style navigational aids were installed nearby, and the area was swept clean of wires and obstructions.
Mention the spider buoy to a longtime Annapolis boater, and you’ll note a touch of nostalgia even for the unattractive remains of a long-lost light.
To learn more about lighthouses on the Bay, visit the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society at cheslights.org.