Minot’s Ledge Light

[photo] Minot’s Ledge Light
Color photo by Jeremy D'Entremont, www.lighthouse.cc
Historic postcard courtesy of Division of Industry, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Minot's Ledge Light is famous for its highly exposed location on Minot's Ledge, a 25-foot-wide rock ledge located approximately one mile offshore from the town of Cohasset. The ledge is part of the Cohasset Rocks, a reef extending for some two miles in a southwesterly direction off Cohasset and Scituate, Massachusetts. Completed in 1850, the original design of Minot's Ledge was an iron pile structure with spider-like legs drilled into the rock below the water. A violent storm surged up the New England coast in April 1851, destroyed the lighthouse and killed the two keepers. A lightship marked the area until this sturdier light tower was completed and the second-order Fresnel lens was illuminated on August 22, 1860. Designed by General Joseph G. Totten of the Lighthouse Board, the new 114-foot high cylindrical tower was constructed of interlocking granite blocks. It continues to operate as an active aid to navigation. The first 40 feet of the tower are solid granite surmounted by a storage level, living quarters, work space and a second-order lantern.

In 1989, a replica of the second-order lantern atop Minot's Ledge Light was constructed on nearby Government Island. The original Fresnel lens, which had been removed from the tower and replaced by a modern optic, is displayed inside the replica lantern. The fog bell from Minot's Ledge is also exhibited. The original keeper's house, which was constructed on Government Island in 1858 and housed off-duty keepers and their families, underwent restoration in 1992 and 1993. It contains two apartments upstairs and a hall for community use downstairs. Considered one of the greatest achievements in American lighthouse engineering, Minot's Ledge Light was recognized as an American Society for Civil Engineering Landmark in 1997.

Minot's Ledge Light is located approximately one mile offshore from the town of Cohasset. It is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and is an active aid to navigation. It is closed to the public. The lighthouse is best seen by boat, but it is visible from Government Island and other points along the shore off Cohasset and Scituate.

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