Cape Charles sits opposite Cape Henry on the northern entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. An important juncture both for Norfolk-bound sea cargo and railroad passengers of old ferrying between their trains, Cape Charles has seen the construction of three lighthouses. The foundations for the first two lie beneath the sea, victims of the unstable shoreline of Smith Island just off Cape Charles. The third Cape Charles Lighthouse, a fully automated exoskeleton tower, still serves mariners from its
According to an 1858 book on Camden history, the Richard family’s African cook pointed to the rocky seven-acre island with spruce trees and grass at the harbor’s entrance and pronounced it “his island.” It was subsequently known as Negro Island until it was renamed Curtis Island in 1934, for Cyrus Curtis, a summer resident of Camden and publishing magnate well known for his philanthropy.