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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum to feature lighthouse lampist in Speaker Event

ST. MICHAELS, Md., – In conjunction with exhibit installation in its new Welcome Center, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is offering a unique look inside the world of lighthouse maintenance and preservation.

U.S. Coast Guard certified lampist Kurt Fosburg will detail his work with Fresnel lenses in lighthouses around the globe in a CBMM Speaker Event, “The Loyal Lampist: Adventures from the Top of a Lighthouse,” on Thursday, June 8, at 3pm in the Van Lennep Auditorium.

One of just a handful of certified professional lampists, Fosburg is visiting CBMM to move one of the Fresnel lenses currently on display in the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse and install it in the new Welcome Center.

In this public talk, Fosburg will share his journey to become an expert in this specialized field and offer stories from a fascinating career working on some of the nation’s most iconic lights. The suggested ticket cost is $8 per person, with both in-person and virtual options available. Registration is open now at

The event and the relocation of the third-order Fresnel lens are generously supported by Choptank Electric Cooperative.

“We are happy to support this event and relocation of a historic Fresnel lens at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum,” said Mike Malandro, President and CEO of Choptank Electric Cooperative. “Our co-op has served the campus for many years and is proud to continue lighting up the Miles River through this partnership.”

The Fresnel lens, designed by French physicist Anthony Fresnel in 1822, revolutionized maritime navigation around the world in the 19th century by offering the ability to cast lighthouse beacons miles farther than was ever possible before thanks to the refraction from hundreds of pieces of specially cut glass.

These lenses were vital for generations on the Chesapeake Bay, lighting the way for boats passing through its shallow, dangerous shoals. The Hooper Strait Lighthouse relied on a smaller, fourth-order Fresnel lens to guide vessels on the Bay in its original location, and since moving to CBMM’s Navy Point in 1966, the historic screwpile lighthouse has illuminated the Miles River at the entrance to St. Michaels harbor nightly.

CBMM currently has three Fresnel lenses on display in the Hooper Strait Lighthouse. With Fosburg’s assistance, the largest of these lenses, a third-order revolving lens on loan from the U.S. Coast Guard, will be moved from the second floor of the lighthouse to greet guests upon their entrance to CBMM’s new Welcome Center, which is slated to open this fall.

Situated at the mouth of an expansive floor map of the Bay in its new home near the Welcome Center reception desk, the lens will be part of an orientation exhibition, introducing guests to the stories and artifacts they will find across campus. The fully ADA-accessible building will also house two additional new exhibition spaces and the museum store, plus a terrace overlooking Fogg’s Cove.

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a non-profit educational organization that preserves and explores the history, environment, and culture of the entire Chesapeake Bay region, and makes this resource available to all.

Every aspect of fulfilling this mission is driven by CBMM’s values of relevance, authenticity, and stewardship, along with a commitment to providing engaging guest experiences and transformative educational programming, all while serving as a vital community partner. For more information, visit or call 410-745-2916.

Choptank Electric is a non-profit, member-owned electric distribution co-op on Maryland’s Eastern Shore serving over 56,000 members. Choptank Electric Cooperative exists to provide reliable and cost-effective electricity that improves the quality of life for our member-owners.

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Photo courtesy David Zapatka, USLHS