The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, located in Cape Henry Virginia, was the first lighthouse in Virginia to be authorized and completed by the newly organized Federal Government in the year 1792. Octagonal in shape, the Cape Henry Lighthouse was built with hammer-dressed stone and was one of the first three lighthouses built by John McComb, Jr. In 1870 the Cape Henry Lighthouse started to crack, and was replaced with the new Cape Henry Lighthouse only 357 feet away, which today operates as a navigation aid for the U.S. Coast Guard. The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse was registered as a National Historic Landmark, and now serves as the official symbol for the City of Virginia Beach.
Located at Cape Henry Virginia on the Atlantic shore of Virginia, Cape Henry Lighthouse marks the southern boundary of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay and is classified as one of Virginia’s capes. In historical times the Cape Henry Lighthouse was of vital importance to the ocean-going shipping traffic that was headed to ports on the Chesapeake Bay. Because it was the first official lighthouse of Virginia, the Cape Henry Lighthouse was built at great expense -- at over $17,000 dollars, a great sum at the time.
Acquired in 1930 by the Associate for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA), the Cape Henry Lighthouse of Cape Henry Virginia thereafter became known as a national historic landmark (officially designated in January of 1964). Through the years a brick lining and an iron stairway have been added to the interior of this first lighthouse in Virginia. During the Civil War, Confederate troops also damaged the light to render the Lighthouse useless for their enemies. By 1863, Union troops repaired the equipment and used it to navigate the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, but when the lighthouse began to crack in 1870, as stated earlier, it was officially decommissioned and replaced by a new lighthouse, 357 feet away that is now used by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is open to the public and offers a breathtaking view of the cape from its observation platform. Be sure to bring your camera and fully enjoy this lighthouse of Virginia. The wind off the water here can be fierce, so bring a jacket and appropriate headgear for the season.
For a great place to stay while exploring the first official lighthouse in Virginia, try the Cape Henry Inn, this establishment offers log cabin accommodations in Cape Henry with a sun-deck and pool for guest use. You can also stay in nearby Virginia Beach and enjoy all of the great nightlife and other tourist attractions offered by this coastal city while remaining close enough to visit Cape Henry and the first lighthouse of Virginia.