Rhode Island Lighthouse History

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Castle Hill Lighthouse


Castle Hill Lighthouse
©2004 R. Holmes




Location: Entrance to East Passage of Narragansett Bay
Location: 1890 - presentl Lat 41 27 43.800 N - Long 71 21 46.500 W
Established: 1890
Lighthouse Constructed: 1890
Automated: 1957
Original Illuminating Apparatus: Fifth Order Fresnel Lens
Current Illuminating Apparatus: 300-mm Lens
Height: 34 feet
Status: Active Aid to Navigation
Light Characteristic: Flashing Red every thirty seconds (1906)
Light Characteristic: Isophase Red every six seconds (2005)
Range: 11˝ miles (1906)
Range: 12 miles (2005)
Fog Signal: Bell Struck By Machinery (1912)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times (1900)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 30 Seconds
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 30 Seconds

Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 2 Times (1912)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 18 Seconds
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 2 Times
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 18 Seconds

Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 2 Times (1952)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 20 Seconds
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 2 Times
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 20 Seconds


In 1869 an application was made for a lighthouse at Castle Hill in Newport. After examining the area, the Lighthouse Board recommended that a lighthouse and a fog signal be built there. The Board requested an appropriation of $18,000 to build it. Congress didn't appropriate the money. The request was renewed the following year and was again denied. The Lighthouse Board didn't renew their request in 1871.

Alexander Agassig and his brother-in-law Quincy Adams Shaw purchased Castle Hill in 1874. They each built masion there during the winter of 1874. The masions were only used during the summer. Agassig a scienist, made his running money a copper mine in Michigan. He used masion as base to do research on the marine life in water around Newport.

On March 3, 1875, Congress appropriated $10,000 for a fog signal at Castle Hill. A site was chosen, but couldn't be purchased. Agassig felt that the fog signal would lower property values. The Lightrhouse Board looked for a new site in the area, but couldn't find a suitable site. After two years of unsuccessfully trying to acquire the site, the Lighthouse Board considered placing a whistle buoy off the point instead. But because of the sheltered character of the position its success was doubtful. The buoy was never placed on the site.

In 1886, the Lighthouse Board tried to build the lighthouse again. The following year one of the property owners, Alexander Agassig, sold them the land for the light for $1.00. On October 20, 1887 the bids to build the lighthouse and fog signal were opened. William Wilbur was the low bidder, but this was on the condition he was allowed a right of way to the proposed site. Agassig refused to give them one. It took nearly two years of negotiations before he relented and deeded a .198 acre right of way. Construction started on the light later in the year and was completed in 1890. It was first lighted on May first. A six-room keeper’s dwelling was built on at the nearby Castle Hill Cove.

Castle Hill Lighthouse survived the 1938 Hurricane without serious damage. In 1957 the light was automated and its Fresnel lens was replaced with a 300-mm plastic lens. The light is still an active aid to navigation.

Castle Hill Lighthouse in 1900
Beavertail Lighthouse
 Courtesy of N.L. Stebbins


See more of Castle Hill Lighthouse in Rhode Island Lighthouses: A Pictorial History by R Holmes.

Updated 4/26/2014