In 1853 Lieutenant A. M. Pennock, of the U,S, Lighthouse Board, filed a report on his survey of Chesapeake Bay. He commented that "a small light should be placed on Drum Point, inside of the Patuxent River." Work finally began on the lighthouse on July 17, 1883. The ten-inch-diameter, wrought-iron piles, made the Allentown Rolling Mills of Philadelphia, were fitted with three foot wide auger flanges. Each of the piles were laboriously hand-bored into the bottom of the Patuxent River like giant screws.
The Chesapeake Bay, at 180 miles in length, is one of the great protected waterways of the country. Because of its natural configuration it became the home of many of our earliest ports of call: Norfolk, Portsmouth, Annapolis, Baltimore and, farther up the Potomac, Alexandria and Washington. These were all bustling seaports early in the beginning of our nation. But for all its size, Chesapeake Bay is shallow in many areas, with limited deep water channels. The need for aids to navigation was evident early on.