Lightship Overfalls


Usually we think of ships as carrying people or cargo from one place to another. But lightships, or “floating lighthouses,” are purposely designed by engineers to stay put. Anchored where deep water or shifting shoals make lighthouses too costly or difficult to erect, the ships have especially strong hulls to withstand the waves and tides. Built in 1938, the Lightship Overfalls was the last one built by the U.S. Lighthouse Service before it merged with the U.S. Coast Guard. State-of-the-art in design, the ship’s horn could be heard for 5 mi., her flashing light was visible on clear nights for 12 mi., and the radio beacon reached up to 25 mi.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Industrial & Manufacturing, Mechanical
Topic(s):Space/Transportation
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:The Lewes Historical Society named the lightship for the Overfalls Shoals station, which from 1892 to 1961 marked the southern entrance to the Delaware Bay. Although this ship never actually served at Overfalls, you can see one that did, on display in Virginia. Curiously, that ship, called the "Portsmouth," is named for a station that didn't exist.
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