On the National and State Register of Historic Places
TINICUM REAR RANGE LIGHTHOUSE HISTORY
The Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse began operation on the evening of December 31, 1880.The lighthouse is a steel skeletal structure standing 85 feet tall with 112 steps leading from the neoclassical pavilion at the base of the tower to the lantern room.Directly below the lantern room is the watch room, which has a unique wood lined closet that curves along the circular outer wall of the tower.Along with the light tower was a keeper’s dwelling, consisting of seven rooms, brick oil house, frame barn and barnyard, cow shed, poultry house and privy situated on 4.8 acres of land.At various times, in the early days, “day marks”, consisting of a four foot diameter iron disc, mounted on a tall staff above the lantern room and slatted frames on each side of the tower, just below the watch room, were added to show above interfering trees at the old Lincoln Park.Today, only the lighthouse remains, although a few of the original bricks, which once were part of neatly laid walkways connecting the station’s buildings, may still be located around the base of the tower.Benjamin Hannold was the first lighthouse keeper at Tinicum. Captain John Birch was the last lighthouse keeper to reside at Tinicum light. Captain Birch retired in 1933 but at the request of the Coast Guard stayed as a custodian of the light until 1945. In 1890 the light was described as a fixed red light of the 5th order, 109 feet above sea level and visible for a distance of 8.5 nautical miles.The light would later be changed to a white light with a red sector, which marked the turning point to the next range.In 1917, the light was changed from oil to electric.Today, still an active aid to navigation, it is a fixed red light exhibiting 500,000 candlepower from a 1,000 watt lamp.
The Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse works in conjunction with the Tinicum Front Range Light which was also referred to as the Billingsport Front Light.This light actually serves two rear range lights, Tinicum and Fort Mifflin Bar Cut Range.It too was activated on December 31, 1880 and is located on the Delaware River bank approximately 5/8 of a mile southwest of the rear light.Originally, the lights were housed in the dwelling, moved to a detached tower in 1887 due to a change in the shipping channel and moved again to a new tower in 1908 due to another shift in the channel.Today, only the base of the tower remains, upon which is a modern skeletal tower supporting two automated lights, that continue to mark the Tinicum and Mifflin Ranges.