Rhode Island Lighthouses

Point Judith Lighthouse

Point Judith Lighthouse
Courtesy of National Archives

Location: Point Judith
Location: 1810 - present lLat 41 21 39 N - Long 71 28 53 W
Established: 1810

Original Lighthouse Constructed: 1810
Second Lighthouse Constructed: 1816
Current Lighthouse Constructed: 1857
Automated: 1954
Original Illuminating Apparatus: Ten lamps with 15 inch reflectors
Current Illuminating Apparatus: Fourth Order Fresnel Lens
Height: 35 feet 1816 - 1857
Height: 51 feet 1816 - Present
Status: Active Aid to Navigation
Light Characteristic: Flashing White every 15 seconds (1906)

Light Characteristic: Fixed White (1928)

Light Characteristic: Group Occulting (3) White every 15 seconds (2005)
Light Characteristic: 5 seconds flash, 2 seconds eclipse
Light Characteristic: 2 seconds flash, 2 seconds eclipse
Light Characteristic: 2 seconds flash, 2 seconds eclipse
Range: 13½ miles (1906)
Range: 14 miles (1952)
Range: 16 miles (2005)
Fog Signal: 1st-class Steam Siren (1900)
Fog Signal: 1st-class Compressed Air Siren (1912)
Fog Signal: 1st-class Air Tyfon (1935)
Fog Signal: Air Diaphragm Horn (1945)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Siren Blast for 5 Seconds (1912)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 40 Seconds
Fog Signal Characteristic: Siren Blast for 5 Seconds
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 40 Seconds

Fog Signal Characteristic: Blast for 3 Seconds (1935)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 17 Seconds
Location: Established: Original Lighthouse Constructed: Second Lighthouse Constructed: Current Lighthouse Constructed: Automated: Original Illuminating Apparatus: Current Illuminating Apparatus: Height: Status: Light Characteristic: Range: For Signal: Fog Signal Characteristic:

The first Point Judith Lighthouse, an octagonal shaped wood tower, was built in 1810. There's no record of what kind of lighting apparatus was used in the light. The light was blown down during a hurricane in 1815.

The second Point Judith lighthouse, a stone tower, was built in 1816. It is uncertain how many lamps and reflectors were first installed in the light. After just twenty years of of service the lighthouse needed major repairs. The lighthouse's lantern and deck needed to be replaced. Point Judith Lightouse went dark for three weeks in 1836. A public notice in the June 25, 1836 edition of the Fall River Monitor stated, "no light will be exhibited at said Lighthouse from and after Sunday the 24th July next, until said work is completed."

In 1838 Lt. George M. Bache reported that the light had ten lamps with attached reflectors. They were also fitted with two-inch green bull's-eye lenses. It was believed that they would intensify the light from the lamps. They didn't and were later removed. The interior of the light was very damp. During the winter ice would sometimes form on windows in the lantern room.

In 1857, Point Judith lighthouse was rebuilt. It was during this reconstruction that a keeper's dwelling was attached to the light tower. A fourth order Fresnel lens was installed in the new light.

In 1918 a collision avoidance system was tested at Point Judith Lighthouse. Dr. Lee De Forest installed a rediophone signalling apparatus at the lighthouse. The apparatus was small and easy to mantain. It would broadcast a warning to ships as they got closer to the lighthouse. It started as the ship got within eight miles of Point Judith Lighthouse. It would boardcast the words Point Judth Light every five seconds over the radio. After every third boardcast the warning "You are getting closer" was sent. When you get within two miles the words "keep off" was boardcast. The system could also send warnings out from a foghorn. It appears the apparatus was a failure, I've been unable to find any evidence that it was installed at any other lighthouses.

Point Judith Lighthouse collision avoidance system
 Courtesy of New York Tribune, Feb 03, 1918

The lighthouse was automated in 1954. The keeper's dwelling was removed after the light was automated.

In 2000 the Point Judith lighthouse underwent its first major renovation in a hundred years. The lantern was removed and repaired. It took four months to complete the work. A temporary light replaced it while it was dark.

Point Judith Lighthouse is located on Point Judith Coast Guard Station.

See more of Point Judith Lighthouse in Rhode Island Lighthouses: A Pictorial History at by R Holmes.

Point Judith Lighthouse in 1900
Point Judith Lighthouse
 Courtesy of N.L. Stebbins

Updated 10/25/2015