The Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, before collapsing in April 1926, guided vessels from the Atlantic Ocean into the Delaware Bay for more than 150 years.

Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, Delaware

Before collapsing in April 1926, the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse guided vessels from the Atlantic Ocean into the Delaware Bay for more than 150 years.

Cape Henlopen Lighthouse
Cape Henlopen Lighthouse

Built in 1767 with money raised from a series of lotteries in Philadelphia, the lighthouse was made of stone brought down from the Brandywine River north of Wilmington, Del., near the Pennsylvania border.

The tower was 26 feet in diameter, 6 feet thick at the base, 69 feet, 3 inches tall, and 17 feet, 6 inches in diameter and 3 feet thick at the top. It was built on the north side of the Great Dune, 46 feet above sea level, to obtain additional height.

Because the dune moved 3 to 5 feet a year, it eventually claimed the lighthouse. When it collapsed, it is said many local residents went to the site to collect the stone for fireplaces and chimneys.

Before the collapse, though, the tower had been discontinued as a lighthouse. Earlier in 1924, the lens was removed from the light for refurbishing and to be placed on display. With the building of the Brandywine Light, waiting areas were no longer needed behind the breakwaters, so the light was disabled.

Another light also once stood on Cape Henlopen. In 1824, the Cape Henlopen Beacon was constructed on a 45-foot tower about a mile north of the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse. There is no record of what happened to the Beacon.

Webmaster's Note: Information for this page was provided by Eric A. Pearson Jr., author of the booklet "Bits & Pieces on Fabulous Cape Henlopen". For more information on the book, write to Pearson at Box H-3 Nassau Park, Lewes, DE 19958.

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Cape Henlopen Lighthouse


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