Smith Point marks the southern side of the entrance to the Potomac River. The first lighthouse at Smith Point was built in 1802. Thomas Jefferson appointed the first keeper, William Helms (or Nelms, depending upon the reference). By 1805, the keeper was already reporting that the lighthouse was endangered by erosion. A seawall was built in 1806, but keeper Elsey Borroughs reported in 1807 that the lighthouse was still endangered. That year, a second lighthouse was built further inland.