CAMBRIDGE -- Tickets are sold out for Saturday evening's interior tours of the Choptank River Lighthouse here but all are still welcome to the 8 p.m. dedication and lighting ceremony.
The replica lighthouse will also be open for interior tours Sunday, during the Dorchester Showcase, noon to 5 p.m., thanks to members of Rescue Fire Co., who will be standing by in case of emergency, since the lighthouse's fire-suppression sprinkler system will not be operational until equipment can be installed in a yet-to-be-built shelter on shore near the lighthouse.
A celebratory dinner will precede the lighthouse opening ceremony. It will be served under a tent at Long Wharf Park, for ticket holders. The dinner is being catered by the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort in Cambridge, as part of its 10th anniversary celebration. All proceeds from ticket sales go towards lighthouse construction and maintenance costs.
A project of the nonprofit Choptank River Lighthouse Society, it is a replica of the Choptank River Lighthouse which stood at Benoni Point, just downriver from Cambridge, in Talbot waters of the Choptank, from 1921 to 1964, when it was dismantled after being decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The original lighthouse was one of 42 screwpile lights built in the Chesapeake Bay region from 1854 to 1900. That Choptank River Lighthouse began life further down the Bay, as Cherrystone Bar Light. After it was deactivated in 1919, it was moved on a barge to a new six-pile foundation off Benoni Point in 1921. It replaced earlier lighthouses at this spot, starting in 1871, which had been destroyed by ice.
Ever since Dorchester's Hoopers Straits Lighthouse was purchased decades ago and moved to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael's, county residents have wanted a lighthouse of their own to attract visitors.
Several plans have been considered for a lighthouse here at Long Wharf Park during the past 20 years.
The current Choptank River Lighthouse Society came up with a compromise to suit the entire community by putting the lighthouse out in the water, at the end of a pier in the city's marina.
Approval from the Maryland General Assembly was needed to build the structure in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area after Cambridge residents approved a plan that maintains the recreational opportunities at Long Wharf Park while providing a striking setting for the replica lighthouse.
Plans are for a small museum in the lighthouse, which will also serve as an office from the Cambridge City Marina's dockmaster and offer tourism brochures to visitors.
For more information about the Choptank River Lighthouse, visit www.choptankriverlighthouse.org.