Chris J LeBlanc Photography - Lighthouses
Providing details and historical information of lighthouse pictures taken during my travels
Newport Harbor Lighthouse
Goat Island, Rhode Island
Newport Harbor Lighthouse Links
© 2011 - Chris J LeBlanc Photographer
Location: Located on the northern end of Goat Island in the harbor at Newport.
Latitude: N 41.49333
Longitude: W 71.32709
Year Constructed: 1842 (station established 1823). Active
Tower Height: 35 feet Focal Plane: 33 feet
Octagonal granite tower with lantern and gallery, 250 mm lens. Tower painted white; lantern black.
The Newport Harbor Lighthouse may not be the best-known light in Newport Harbor, but its place in history is unchallenged as the first beacon to guide mariners into the bustling Newport of the early 1800s. The lighthouse stands on Goat Island, so named because early Newport residents pastured their goats there, and is known locally as Goat Island Lighthouse. This lighthouse has overseen massive changes to Newport and its harbor over the last two hundred years.
The first lighthouse on Goat Island at the entrance to Newport Harbor was completed in 1823. Activated on New Year’s Day of 1824, the stone tower was twenty feet tall with a multi-lamp and reflector combination showing a fixed white light. Unfortunately, the beacon did not adequately mark the shallow reef just north of the island, and many vessels ran aground on the rocks. It was decided that the light would be of better service if it were placed at the end of a dike, off the northern end of Goat Island.
In 1842 construction of the dike and the new, tower was completed. The exterior walls of the octagonal tower were made of granite, while the interior was lined with hammered stone and had a spiral stone stairway that led to the lantern room. The original lighthouse continued to shine until the new station was ready in 1842, at which time the lighting apparatus was transferred to the new tower. The displaced tower was dismantled in 1851 and relocated to Prudence Island, where it still operates today. A fourth-order Fresnel lens replaced the reflectors in the Newport Harbor Lighthouse in 1857.
In 1864, a new keeper’s dwelling was built adjacent to the tower on the breakwater. Four years after that, the old keeper’s house on Goat Island was taken down and its cellar filled. In 1873, a fog bell and striking machinery was added to the station. From 1906 on, the light’s characteristic was flashing white, with fifteen seconds of light followed by five seconds of darkness. The keeper’s dwelling was badly damaged in 1922 when a submarine rammed the breakwater, and the residence has since been torn down. That same year, the beacon was converted to electrical power.
The Goat Island Lighthouse was automated in 1963, but remains an active aid to navigation. In the 1970s, the area between the lighthouse and Goat Island was filled in and a hotel was built on the property. The Newport Harbor Lighthouse was completely renovated by the Coast Guard in 1989.
Historic Postcard of Newport Harbor Lighthouse
- Station Established: 1824
- Year Current Tower: First Lit: 1865
- Foundation Materials: GRANITE BREAKWATER
- Construction Materials: GRANITE BLOCKS
- Tower Shape: OCTAGONAL (ORIG. ATTACHED TO HOUSE)
- Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/BLACK LANTERN
- Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL