Rhode Island Lighthouse History

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




Gould Island Lighthouse


Gould Island Light Lighthouse
©1902 by N.L. Stebbins


Location: East Side of Gould Island
Location: 1889 - 1947 lLat 41 32 04 N - Long 71 20 38 W
Location: 1947 - 1988 lLat 41 32 03 N - Long 71 20 36 W
Established: 1889

Lighthouse Constructed: 1889
Deactivated and Replaced with Skeleton Tower: 1947
Original Illuminating Apparatus:Fifth Order Fresnel Lens
Second Illuminating Apparatus: Fourth Order Fresnel Lens
Third Illuminating Apparatus: 375-mm Lens
Height: Lighthouse: 30 feet (1906)
Height: Skeleton tower: 24 feet (1986)
Height: None (2005)
Status: No Longer Exists
Light Characteristic: Lighthouse: Flashing White every 30 seconds (1906)
Light Characteristic:Lighthouse:Flashing White every 10 seconds (1935)

Light Characteristic: Skeleton tower: Flashing White every 10 seconds (1952)
Light Characteristic:Skeletontower:Flashing White every 6 seconds (1986)

Light Characteristic: None (2005)
Range: Lighthouse: 12 miles (1906)
Range: Skeleton tower: 12 miles (1952)
Range:Skeletontower:8 miles (1986)
Range: None (2014)
Fog Signal: Bell Struck By Machinery (1912)
Fog Signal: Compress Air Diaphragm Horn (1952)
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

Fog Signal Characteristic: Horn Blast for 4 Seconds (1952)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 26 Seconds

Location: Established: Lighthouse Constructed: Deactivated and Replaced with Skeleton Tower: Original Illuminating Apparatus: Second Illuminating Apparatus: Third Illuminating Apparatus: Current Illuminating Apparatus: Height: Status: Light Characteristic: Range: Fog Signal: Fog Signal Characteristic:


The first light on Gould Island was built in the early 1880's on the northern end of the island. It was a private light maintained by the Old Colony Steamboat Company. It was located on land owned by E.C. Homans, a New York stock broker. He and his family had a summer house on the island. It is uncertain what the light looked like. Edmund Taylor, Gould Island Lighthouse's first lighthouse keeper, was also the keeper of this private light. In his 1943 obituary, it stated "Mr. Taylor regularly maintained a lantern which he hung for the purpose of signaling the New York boats and other harbor traffic." In 1885 the Lighthouse Board wanted to build a government light on the island. It didn't want the ships which pass Gould Island, carrying thousands of passengers, to be jeopardized by the failure of the light.

In 1887, $10,000 was appropriated for the lighthouse and a site was chosen. The site was on land owned by Mrs. Homans. She gave it to the government on the condition Taylor became its keeper. A thirty feet conical brick tower and a keeper's dwelling were built on the northeast side of the island. It was equipped with a fifth order Fresnel lens. It went into operation on June 10, 1889.

Gould Island was heavily wooded. When ships approached the island from the south, trees would sometime block the light. In 1932, after years of complaints, Gould Island South Light, a light on a skeleton tower, was built on the southern tip of the island.

Gould Island Lighthouse was decommissioned on March 17, 1947. Its log states that all the equipment was removed and the building was padlocked. A light on a skeleton tower and an automatic foghorn replaced it. The lighthouse was reportedly torn down in 1960, but I have not been able to verify this.

In October 1972, the Coast Guard proposed discontinuing the light because it was unnecessary for safety and navigation and to save money. The decision would be based on public response. If they received enough letters the light and foghorn would remain on. They received more than thirty letters protesting it being discontinued. They remained on. The following year the Coast Guard proposed discontinuing just the foghorn. Only two protest letters were received. The foghorn was discontinued. On October 24, 1988, the skeleton tower's base crumbled and the tower fell over. It was not replaced.

If you have photographs of Gould Island Lighthouse or its keepers that I can use on my web site, please contact me.

Updated 6/2/2015

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