Rhode Island Lighthouse History

Home | Photographs | Postcards | Lighthouse Board Documents | Lighthouse Keepers | Directions

Dutch Island Lighthouse

Dutch Island Lighthouse
Courtesy of Coast Guard Historian's Office

Location: Southern tip of Dutch Island
Location: 1826 - presentl Lat 41 29 48 N - Long 71 24 15 W
Established: 1826
Original Lighthouse Constructed: 1826
Current Lighthouse Constructed: 1857
Deactivated: 1979 - 2007
Original Illuminating Apparatus: Eight lamps and reflectors (1826)
Second Illuminating Apparatus: Fourth Order Fresnel lens (1857)
Third Illuminating Apparatus: 375mm lens (1947)
Current Illuminating Apparatus: Solar Powered Beacon (2007)
Height:30 feet 1826 - 1857
Height:42 feet 1857 - Present
Status: Restored/Private Aid To Navigation
Light Characteristic: Fixed White (1906)
Light Characteristic: Occulting Red every 10 second (1940)
Light Characteristic: Flashing Red every 10 second (1950)
Light Characteristic: Flashing Red every 6 second (1979)
Light Characteristic: None (2005)
Light Characteristic: Flashing Red every 6 second (2007)
Range: 12 miles (1906)
Range: 9 miles (1925)
Range: 13 miles (1940)
Range: 12 miles (1950)
Range: 6 miles (1979)
Range: None (2005)
Range: 3 miles (2007)
Fog Signal: Bell Struck By Machinery (1912)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times (1912)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 15 Seconds
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 15 Seconds

The first Dutch Island Lighthouse, a four room keeper's dwelling with the light on the roof; was built on the southern end of the island in 1826. It was built of slate and other stones found on the island. Early records are vague on the location of the light on the lighthouse. It could have been in the center of the lighthouse like the 1837 Mayo Beach Lighthouse in Massachusetts or on the end of the lighthouse like the 1829 Mount Desert Lighthouse in Maine.

After thirty years in service the light needed major repairs. In the Lighthouse Board's 1855 annual report, the condition of the lantern and tower were described as "extremely bad." The report recommended that "the lantern, illuminating apparatus, and stairs of the tower, if not the tower itself should be rebuilt."

A new tower was built in 1857. It was attached to the keeper's dwelling. A fourth order Fresnel lens was installed in the new tower.

Dutch Island Lighthouse's light was extinguished during World War II. This was done so it couldn't be used as an aid to navigation by German U-boats.

Dutch Island lighthouse was automated in 1947 and the fourth order Fresnel lens was replaced with a 375mm lens. The keeper's dwelling was torn down sometime in the early 1960s. The area around the light was later turned over to the state of Rhode Island.

In 1972 the Coast Guard wanted to close the light. Captain B.E. Thompson said, "the light appears to have outlived its usefulness because it was out for a week last month and several days last fall before someone reported it." After local residents and boaters protested the closing, the Coast Guard decided not to close it. The light remained in service until 1979, when vandals damaged it. The Coast Guard didn't repair it.

In April 2000 the Coast Guard leased the light to the American Lighthouse Foundation. A local chapter of ALF, the Dutch Island Lighthouse Society, was founded to preserve and restore the lighthouse.

In 2007 after years of fundraising by Dutch Island Lighthouse Society and a $120,000 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Transportion, restoration started on the lighthouse. The work was done by Abcore Restoration of Narragansett, Rhode Island.

A solar pwered beacon was installed in the restored Dutch Island Lighthouse. It was paid for an anonymous donation. On November 17, 2007, just after 7:00 PM the lighthouse was relighthed

Dutch Island Lighthouse in 1900
Dutch Island Lighthouse
 Courtesy of N.L. Stebbins

For information on the Dutch Island Lighthouse Society, contact:

Dutch Island Lighthouse Society
P.O. Box 435
Saunderstown, RI 02874

Updated 5/15/2014