The Tallest Lighthouse in West Virginia Is a Towering 104-Foot Behemoth

Written by Jaydee Williams
Updated: June 15, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The Summersville Lake Lighthouse is a recent addition to the state’s attractions. Constructed in 2012, it was built by Steve and Donna Keblesh, the proprietors of Summersville Lake Retreat.
  • Summersville Lake Lighthouse holds the distinction of being the tallest lighthouse in West Virginia, standing at an impressive height of 104 feet.
  • On the occasion of West Virginia’s 150th birthday, June 20, 2013, the lighthouse was officially dedicated during a commemorative lighting ceremony.

When you think about lighthouses, the landlocked state of West Virginia probably doesn’t come to mind first. However, it’s actually home to the 48th tallest lighthouse in the United States. Lighthouses surprisingly aren’t always located by the ocean, they can be enacted next to any body of water. The tallest lighthouse in West Virginia is also the only lighthouse in the state. Most other landlocked states don’t have lighthouses, making West Virginia’s lighthouse pretty unique.

The tallest lighthouse in West Virginia is Summersville Lake Lighthouse at 104 feet tall.

Summersville Lake, West Virginia

The tallest lighthouse in West Virginia is surely overlooking one of the most beautiful lakes in the state.

© Kreutz

History of Summersville Lake Lighthouse

The Summersville Lake Lighthouse is a newer attraction for the state. It was built in 2012 by the owners of Summersville Lake Retreat, Steve and Donna Keblesh. The idea to erect the lighthouse actually started from a joke and turned into reality after discussions with some local builders. 

When guest Rick Butler stayed at the Summersville Lake Retreat, he got into a conversation with the owners about his work. He built wind towers in the neighboring county and had enacted quite a few recently. The owners joked with Butler that if he had an extra tower to spare, they would love to convert it into a lighthouse. While it was just an off-handed comment at first, this idea sparked the entire lighthouse project.

It turned out that Butler’s company did have an extra tower that they couldn’t use for wind production. It was damaged from falling off of a truck during transportation. When the owners heard this, they decided to turn their joking comments into reality. They purchased the wind turbine and had it delivered to the retreat. It took two 50-ton cranes to move the tower onto a truck and place it back on the ground at the retreat.

Community Help

Word spread quickly around the community about the lighthouse project, and people were more than happy to help the Kebleshes’ dreams become reality. Students and instructors from two nearby schools drew up design plans for the lighthouse. Helpers from the Fayette Institute of Technology and the Nicholas County Career & Technical Center both played a big role in renovating the lighthouse.

They designed plans to create a lamp room and a spiral staircase that wrapped around the former wind turbine. The light for the lighthouse was donated by Rader Airfield, a local airfield that had an extra beacon in storage. It was a vintage model from 1941 that can be seen from over 30 miles away. The light isn’t just for show, though. Of course, it isn’t guiding sailors to the lighthouse, but it is registered as a navigational aid for pilots and aircraft. 

Beautiful sunset above the windmills on the field

The lighthouse was enacted from the base of a wind turbine despite the idea starting as just a joke.


Lighthouse Activities

The lighthouse was dedicated with a lighting ceremony on June 20, 2013, the 150th birthday of West Virginia. The public showed up for the dedication in full force, with over 2,000 people watching as the lighthouse became active.

With its completion and additions in 2013, the structure now weighs a massive 77,000 pounds. The 104-foot lighthouse is an active tourist destination. It overlooks Summersville Lake and the Gauley Bridge National Recreation Area. Visitors to the retreat can visit the lighthouse and climb its 122 steps to take in the beautiful scenery around. It is open daily from April to October and by reservation from November to March. 

There are tours of the lighthouse during the day and evening, as well as special tours like sunset and full-moon tours. 

There is an annual event called the Summersville Lake Lighthouse Festival and Car Show. It happens on the fourth Saturday in August and draws in large crowds every year.

The lighthouse offers a surprisingly extensive view of Summersville Lake.


The Retreat

Summersville Lake Retreat offers many activities aside from just the lighthouse. They also have cabins, RV camping, and tent camping available for lodging. They also offer boat rentals to explore the gorgeous Summersville Lake. 

Wildlife Around Summersville Lake Lighthouse

Summersville Lake is the largest lake in West Virginia, offering over 2,700 surface acres of water and 60 miles of shoreline. It offers many different views, from rocky cliffs surrounding the sides to the Summersville Dam which was constructed in 1966. The lake is a popular spot for boating, rock climbing, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Many different species have been spotted and caught in the lake. Many anglers have seen large and smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish, sunfish, and catfish in the lake. However, the most popular species are bass, crappie, and walleye. Because of the popularity of fishing here, the lake is surrounded by fishing tackle shops and there is a marina on the lake as well.

Summersville Lake, WV

Summersville Lake, the largest lake in West Virginia, has 60 miles of coastline and a surface area of more than 2,700 acres.

©Malachi Jacob’s/

Where is Summersville Lake Lighthouse Located on a Map?

The Summersville Lake Lighthouse was erected on October 17, 2012, overlooking Summersville Lake in Mount Nebo, West Virginia. Standing 104 feet tall and weighing 77,000 lbs., this cylindrical tower was constructed entirely from 1/2 inch thick steel.

It features a base diameter of 12 feet, narrowing to 8 feet at the top. Visitors can ascend 122 steps to reach a 360-degree gallery deck, offering breathtaking views of Summersville Lake and the Gauley River National Recreation Area.

Here is Summersville Lake Lighthouse on a map:

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jim Vallee/

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About the Author

Jaydee Williams is a writer at AZ Animals where her primary focus is on gardening, mammals, and travel. She has over 5 years of experience in writing and researching and holds a Master's Degree in English from the American College of Education, which she earned in 2019. A central Florida native, Jaydee loves being on the water, playing music, and petting her cat, Beans.

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