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Recreation & Parks - Museum Division

The Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park

image of piney point museum exterior view image of landscape piney point lighthouse and museum image of displays within museum

The Piney Point Lighthouse Museum is a white two-story structure on the north campus of the park and houses museum exhibits, the Lighthouse Lens 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 must 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.

Lighthouse Lens Museum Store

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The museum store offers an array of Piney Point Lighthouse souvenirs, nautical gifts, books, jewelry, clothing, children's corner and more! The store is operated by the Friends of the St. Clement's Island and Piney Point Museums with proceeds returning to support museum programs, projects and exhibits. The Lighthouse Lens is your destination for unique quality gifts. And for the "one who has everything," consider a gift membership to The Friends! Museum members receive a 10% discount on store purchases.


The Potomac River Maritime Exhibit

image of potomac river maritime exterior view image of potomac river maritime interior view

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.

Piney Point Lighthouse Park and Pier
image of piney point lighthouse walkway to pier

Come by boat! The Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and 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 lunch or dinner and enjoy the shaded picnic area near the lighthouse. The beautiful new 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 available for rental for special events. Contact the site supervisor at 301-994-1471 for more information.
image of individuals having a picnic in the shaded picnic area

image of kayaks and kayak launch The park also offers a kayak launch located on the north campus next to the Potomac River Maritime Exhibit. It rest 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.

Piney Point Lighthouse
"The Lighthouse of Presidents"

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 entertaining American Presidents such as James Monroe, Franklin Pierce, Theodore Roosevelt and other notables including American statesman Daniel Webster, American Vice President John C. Calhoun, and later, the inimitable singer Kate Smith.
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.

image of lighthouse  

Lighthouse Keepers

• 1836 Philip Clark

• 1861 Robert Marshall

• 1910 William Slacum

• 1919 William Yeatman
• 1840 Henry C. Heard • 1865 Henry Stainbrice • 1911 Loch Humphreys • 1931 William Goeshy
• 1845 Charlotte Suter • 1869 Noah Wilson • 1913 Henry Wingate  
• 1846 William B. Taylor • 1873 Elizabeth Wilson • 1915 Joseph Talbot  
• 1849 John N. Nuthall • 1877 Helen Tune • 1917 Henry Wingate  
• 1860 Martha Nuthall • 1883 Thomas W. Costin • 1919 Henry Wingate  

We invite you to explore our sites and exciting opportunities by clicking on the links below. Please visit our sites and gift shops, enjoy our programs and special events, and discover our extensive research opportunities.

St. Clements Island Museum Piney Point Lighthouse Museum & Historic Park U-1105 Black Panther Historic Shipwreck Preserve Drayden African American School House
Little Red School House Guided Tours & Student Tours Water Taxi Tours Museum Stores
Research Center Volunteer Programs Calendar of Events Join the Friends
Finer Points Newsletter Annual Reports Links of Interest St. Mary's County Tourism
Recreation & Parks Contact Us Museums Homepage