Straitsmouth Island Light

[photo] Straitsmouth Island Light
Photos by Jeremy D'Entremont,
The town of Rockport, Massachusetts, owed its growth to its granite business in the 1820s coupled with its prosperous fishing industry. In an effort to assist shipping in the area, Straitsmouth Island Light Station was established in 1835 on the eastern side of Straitsmouth Island, east of Rockport. The east end of the island consists of a flat meadow with shrubs and wildflowers, strewn with rocks. The shoreline is made up of granite boulders and a fissured ledge, which is heavily occupied by seagulls. Below the high tide line, the rock is covered with slippery seaweed and algae. The original light station received a Fresnel lens in the 1850s. A new one-and-one-half story keeper's dwelling replaced the original dwelling in 1878. The present 37-foot tall, cylindrical brick tower replaced the original 19-foot tall brick tower in 1896. In addition to the keeper's dwelling and the tower, an oil house remains standing. Straitsmouth Island, with the exception of the lighthouse, was sold to a private owner in 1941. The original Fresnel lens was removed after the light station was automated and unmanned in 1967. The Massachusetts Audubon Society (MAS) acquired the island in the late 1960s.

Historic view of Straitsmouth Island Light
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard

The lighthouse continued as an active aid to navigation after automation, but the abandoned keeper's house quickly deteriorated. Although the dwelling underwent some renovations throughout the 1980s, it was subsequently exposed to the elements and further deterioration. In October 1991, a harsh storm destroyed the enclosed passageway attached to the tower. Straitsmouth Island, which is still owned by MAS and used as a bird sanctuary, is closed to the public. Owned and managed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Straitsmouth Island Light continues to operate as a Federal aid to navigation today.

Straitsmouth Island Light Station is located on Straitsmouth Island off the coast of Rockport. The island is owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society and is generally closed to the public. The only access to the island is through occasional MAS kayaking excursions. The U.S. Coast Guard owns and operates the Straitsmouth Island Light Station and it is also closed to the public. Straitsmouth Island Light is visible from the breakwater at the end of Bearskin Neck in Rockport.

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