Derby Wharf Light Station

Derby Wharf Light station
Derby Wharf Light Station has stood on the end of Derby Wharf since 1871.

NPS photo


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.


For more information:

“Derby Wharf Light Station,” Volume VIII, Number 7 of Salem Maritime’s occasional newsletter Pickled Fish and Salted Provisions (2.5M pdf file)

On Derby Wharf:
Salem’s Historic Wharves

On Lighthouses in the United States:
The National Park Service’s Lighthouse Heritage Page

Last updated: February 26, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

160 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970


(978) 740-1650

Contact Us