Derby Wharf Light Station
Derby Wharf Light Station has aided navigation in Salem Harbor since it was first lit in 1871. The Derby Wharf Light, along with the Hospital Point Light in Beverly, Massachusetts, and Fort Pickering Light Station on Winter Island in Salem, were designed to “mark the main channel leading into this anchorage, with the view to its becoming a harbor of refuge which may be safely entered at any time,” in the words of the 1870 report of the lighthouse board to the U.S. Treasury. The lighthouse is located on the end of Derby Wharf. Derby Wharf Light is about twelve feet square and about 20 feet high to the top of the cupola.
Originally, the light was powered by an oil lamp shining through a Fresnel lens. Fresnel lenses are designed to focus and intensify light, and are rated by orders, from first order lenses that are used in the largest seacoast lights, and are almost nine feet tall, to sixth order lights, that are about 17 inches tall. For many years, Derby Wharf Light had one of only 17 sixth-order Fresnel lenses in the United States. Today, the light is solar powered, and the light is a red flash every six seconds.
Did You Know?
In 1799, Salem native Nathaniel Bowditch revised John H. Moore's New Practical Navigator, the standard navigation manual of the 18th century. Bowditch discovered and corrected over 8,000 errors in Moore's manual! In 1802, Bowditch published the New American Practical Navigator.