was purchased from the Narragansett Indians by a group of settlers from Newport.
||The first official
request for a permanent navigational aid (a lighthouse) was recorded in the documents
of the Newport Town Meeting.
||To raise funds
for lighthouse construction, the first tariff was placed on imported and exported
cargo passing through Newport (10 shillings per ton foreign; 18 shillings per
||In February, the
following appeared in the Newport Town Record:
was appointed to build a Lighthouse at Beavertail on the Island of Jamestown,
alias Conanicut, as there appears a great necessity for a lighthouse as several
misfortunes have happened lately for want of a light."
the first lighthouse, the third in the colonies, began in May and ended in September.
Peter Harrison was the architect. The lighthouse was constructed of wood. The
tower was 58 feet high to cornice with an 11-foot lantern on top. Abel Franklin
was appointed the first keeper.
||The wooden lighthouse
was rebuilt after a fire destroyed the original. Stones from Goat Island were
used as building materials. The foundation is visible today 100 feet in front
of the present light tower. Abel Franklin manned his post during construction,
warning ships with a hand held lantern.
retreating from Newport burned the tower and removed the lighting equipment, leaving
the beacon darkened for the rest of the Revolution.
||Repair of the
lighthouse was completed. United States Congress established its authority over
the nation's twelve lighthouses. Not until 1793 did the Rhode Island General Assembly
agree to transfer Beavertail Light to the Federal Government.
||The beacon was
lit with manufactured gas for one year in an experiment conducted by Newport inventor
David Melville. Despite the cleaner, brighter flame produced by gas, the backers
of whale oil persuaded the Federal Government to end its support for this competing
form of fuel.
Lighthouse Board was established, and the agency quickly set about creating a
modern lighthouse system.
||A new lighthouse
was constructed to replace the deteriorating 1753 structure. The new one measured
10 feet square, and 64 feet to the beacon. The new optic was a third-order Fresnel
lens imported from France, a sparkling beehive of glass similar to that now housed
in the Museum. The old tower was removed and on its foundation was built a fog-whistle
||The first in a
series of experiments involving fog-warning devices took place at Beavertail.
A Daboll "Fog Trumpet" -- driven by compressed air -- was tested. This was followed
by the installation of the first steam powered foghorn in 1857. Several other
"firsts" in foghorn equipment were tested at Beavertail over the next 40 years.
||A dwelling was
added to house an assistant keeper, who helped with fog signal duties. This house
now serves as the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum.
||The first electric
light beacon was installed during the tenure of Captain George T. Manders, who
served as keeper for 24 years.
||The Great Hurricane
of 1938 exposed the foundation of the original lighthouse, 100 feet in front of
the present light. Hidden by the fog whistle building, it had long been forgotten.
||The Bureau of
Lighthouses -- which in 1910 had replaced the Lighthouse Board -- relinquished
its responsibilities for navigational aids to the United States Coast Guard, which
continues these duties today.
||The beacon was
automated, part of a program which in 1989 ended the profession of lighthouse
keeping in the United States (except for the Boston Light). BM 1st Class John Baxter was
the last keeper to serve at Beavertail, 1970-1972.
||The Rhode Island
Parks Association began restoring the deteriorating Assistant Keeper's House as
a lighthouse museum.
Lighthouse Museum was opened, the result of a joint effort by the Rhode Island
Parks Association, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the
Town of Jamestown, and the United States Coast Guard.
Fresnel lens was removed and replaced by a rotating beacon. This lens is now displayed
in the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum.
also the fine history page from Jeremy D'Entremont.
|History with some views -3D animation