U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey

Antique MS engineering drawing of screw-pile day-mark beacon

Tobago Middle Ground Day Beacon

DESCRIPTION: Fine late 19th-century manuscript engineering drawings of a screw-pile day-beacon designed for the Tobago Middle Ground shoal in the Rappahannock River, Virginia. Probably a product of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. Dated within to 1894. Baltimore, Maryland.

Manuscript pencil notations: "Not used" and "Historical".

In a 1896 letter to Congress transmitting estimates of appropriations from the Secretary of the Treasury is a line item for $3,000 for "Establishing a day beacon on or near the Tobago Middle Ground, Rappahannock River, Virginia." A note below the item states: "The middle ground has but four feet of water on it. A prominent mark would be a valuable aid in the navigation of that part of the river." Apparently this request derived from the Lighthouse Board who proposed to build a screw-pile beacon at Tobago as early as 1893.

Our drawing, from 1894, is annotated with the words "not used". That may very well be because a less expensive solution was adopted. According to the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Notice to Mariners in 1903 "a black spar buoy, without number, was placed in 15 feet of water on the edge of the shoal opposite the upper end of Tobago Middle Ground."

CREATOR: U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey



BODY OF WATER: Rappahannock River

CONDITION: Very good.  Edges, previously reinforced with cellulose-like tape are beginning to crack, trim reinforced with archival tape in spots. Clean. No major issues.

COLORING: Hand color.


SIZE: 16 " x 26 "


PRICE: $450


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