Drum Point Lighthouse is one of three surviving screwpile lighthouses in Maryland. Once a common type in the Chesapeake Bay, screwpile lighthouses feature wood buildings standing on an iron frame with angled piles screwed into the seabed. The auger-like flange at the bottom of the iron piles was well-suited for anchoring the lighthouse structure into the often soft and shallow bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.
Built in 1883 in five acres of open water at the mouth of the Patuxent River, Drum Point Lighthouse is a hexagonal combination light and keeper’s quarters standing on six iron piles. The one-and-a-half-story wood portion of the lighthouse is solidly built with mortise-and-tenon joints. The first floor is surrounded by an open gallery and includes four rooms. The second floor has two rooms located under the hexagonal roof that are lit by dormer windows. A hexagonal cupola above contains the light and is surrounded by a small open gallery. Water collected from the roof was gathered in 200-gallon tanks. The original light was a fourth order Fresnel lens described as a “fixed red” on nineteenth-century navigational charts; it was altered to white with three red panels in 1911. The lightkeeper and his family lived in the lighthouse until 1944, when the lightkeeper and two assistants were stationed there.
By 1962 receding water levels left Drum Point Lighthouse stranded on the beach at low tide. It was decommissioned and left vulnerable to vandalism. In 1975 the structure was moved to Back Creek at the Calvert Maritime Museum and restored for interpretation and tours. Along with the other two surviving examples—Thomas Shoals Point Lighthouse in Anne Arundel County and Seven-Foot Knoll Lighthouse now located at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor—Drum Point Lighthouse preserves the once-common screwpile lighthouse for future generations.