Back River Lighthouse Keepers’ Society
Dedicated to the collection & preservation of the history of the Back River Lighthouse
The Society is made up of community members who support the construction and maintaining the replica.
The Society is collecting documents, photographs, and other materials concerning the history of the Back River Lighthouse. Whether donated or loaned, great care will be taken to protect and preserve these artifacts.
Checks may be made payable to Fox HIll Neighborhood Center with a notation directing the funds to the Back River Lighthouse Keepers’ Society.
Constructing the Replica
The 1/4 scale replica will be constructed on the Chesapeake Bay shoreline, the left-hand side of the park at the end of Beach Road.
toward our fundraising goal of
Construction of the replica
The success of the replica project is dependent on the Society raising $20,000 through donations, fundraisers, and grants.
The replica will be placed on the center left-hand side of the park at the end of Beach Road on the Chesapeake Bay shoreline. Should a major hurricane threaten Grandview, the tower can easily be unbolted from the base and moved to safety until the storm threat is over.
A walkway will lead up to the lighthouse and be used to display information about the original lighthouse.
Heading up the design and construction of the replica are two Fox Hill natives: John Melzer, Coastal Marine Solutions, and Matt Locey, Chesapeake Bay Custom Fabrications.
Winslow Lewis of Boston had the lowest bid of $3,500 and was awarded the contract in 1829. It was to be 30 feet high, circular in shape, with a base of 18 feet and 9 feet at the beginning of the cupula. The keeper’s house was one story, 43′ x 20,’ and situated about 150 feet west of the lighthouse.
1829 – 1852
The first keeper
William Jet was the keeper from 1829 until 1852. Lett had an African-American assistant who probably worked with Lett for the entire 22 years.
U.S. Lighthouse Board took over
New lens and lantern
The station received a Fresnel lens and lantern. Previous to this the lighthouse had a revolving reflector system.
1886, 1978, 1888
Rip rap added
Rip rap was added to help deal with storm damage. The rip rap is still visible today except at extreme high tides.
A second story
A second story was added to the Keeper’s dwelling.
The house was dismantled
The government gave up and abandoned the station as a manned unit in 1912. The house was dismantled and sold, but the tower supported a light until 1936. Thee Keeper from 1912 to 1936 lived in Fox Hill and made daily trips to attend the lens.
An accident or murder?
In 1931, a young wife drowned at the lighthouse. The family of the young girl was convinced her husband murdered her. There was a sensational trial, but the husband was not convicted.
The property was sold
Hurricane Flossy brought down the tower in 1956. Bricks were scattered all over the beach. There is many a patio in Fox Hill created by beachcombers lugging home bricks from the beach.
Share the history
If you have information about the lighthouse, please take a moment to contact the Back River Lighthouse Keeper’s Society and share the information. The Society wants to capture all the information it can to help preserve the history of the lighthouse, its keepers, and the experiences of Fox Hill residents.
Join the Society
Basic membership starting at $20 allows the donor’s name to be permanently recorded in the Keeper’s Log housed at the Fox Hill Neighborhood Center.
Lighthouse Keeper Membership
Contributions of $50 or more will include the donor’s name to be listed as a Lighthouse Keeper recorded in the Keeper’s Log.
Individuals, organizations, or businesses contributing $100 or more will be recorded in the Keepers’ Log and receive a photograph of the Back River Lighthouse.
Station Master Membership
Individuals, organizations, or businesses contributing $1000 or more will be recorded in the Keepers’ Log and receive a photograph of the Back River Lighthouse.