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#70952 - 08/01/07 10:18 PM Castles of Western Long Island Sound
sandy Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 12/10/02
Posts: 1964
Loc: Kent, CT
Ladybug’s (Darlene’s) LI Sound trip shows eastern Long Island Sound lights. My trip was to see western Long Island Sound lights. Between the two of us, you’ll get to see most of the lights in CT.

There are 19 lighthouses in CT and 1 Memorial Light (Avery Point). Although we’ve seen many of these lights before, most of our pictures were taken from land. So, when the chance to see CT and NY lighthouses up close and personal this past weekend presented itself, we opted to miss Stan’s annual family reunion and join Captain Barry Natale, Sound Navigation, LLC aboard his 37 foot, twin diesel-powered vessel, the SEAPORT EXPRESS. We haven’t heard or read of anyone else offering boat trips to many of these lights–especially Great Captain Island for which I’ve been haunting the internet for many years. The Seaport Express is certified by the United States Coast Guard to carry 27 passengers for hire, but our trips (Saturday and Sunday) had 11 passengers and 20 passengers respectively and that was comfortable. The rain held off for both days, except for a short squall on Saturday’s trip.

We left Veteran’s Memorial Park in Norwalk, CT at 11 AM with a total of 11 passengers and Captain Barry and Jason, his assistant. First stop was

Great Captain Island, CT. Situated on the largest of a 3-island group about a mile offshore from Greenwich, CT, the other two islands are Little Captain (Island Beach) and Wee Captain, which is attached to Great Captain by a sandbar. Located near the main shipping lanes of LI Sound and surrounded by a number of small islands, ledges, shoals, and other maritime hazards, the island was an ideal spot for a lighthouse. The first lighthouse was a 30' tower built of rough stone that was described as badly constructed. The 5-room keeper’s quarters, a stone structure separate from the lighthouse tower, was in better shape.

A replacement lighthouse was built on the site in 1867 using a design shared by other area lighthouses (Sheffield Island, CT, Morgan Point, CT, Old Field Point, NY, Plum Island, NY, and Block Island North, RI)–a stone keeper’s dwelling with a cast-iron light tower on top towards the front.

A steam-driven fog whistle was added in a separate new structure in 1890 and in 1905 a duplicate foghorn powered by 13 hp oil engines went into service. Local residents complained of not being able to sleep at night due to the noise and adjustments were made.

A complete restoration of the lighthouse was to start in 2007, but we did not see any signs of that from our vantage point on the Seaport Express. Although the island is open year round and a ferry runs during the summer months, only Greenwich residents and their guests are allowed on the ferry and onto the island.

Next stop was literally a stop and tour of Huntington Harbor (Lloyd Harbor; Huntington; The Castle) L.I., NY. Captain Barry has permission to dock at the site where we were given an informative talk by one of its volunteers.

The first harbor lighthouse was a 2-story wood-framed keeper’s house built in 1857 on a brick foundation with a square masonry tower attached to the back. The lantern was reached via a 2nd-story window and ladder.

The present Huntington Harbor Lighthouse was completed in 1912, following destruction of the original by fire on November 12, 1947. It is a 1-story dwelling with basement and an attached square tower–its styling has been described as belonging to the Venetian Renaissance or Islamic temple genres and designed by a Beaux Arts or Art Deco architect. The basement contains a water cistern and 2 fuel storage rooms. The lighthouse’s foundation, a round reinforced concrete caisson, was cast ashore and then barged to the site. Once in place, additional concrete was poured around the cistern and room forms to produce a solid base. It is the oldest reinforced concrete lighthouse on the East Coast. Point Arena in California is America’s oldest.

The 4th-order Fresnel optic, first lighted on November 15, 1857, did not have a sufficient elevation for eastbound ships to pick up its fixed white light. In 1883 the kerosene-fed lens’ characteristic was changed to show a fixed red light of greater intensity. By the early 1900s, both the public and politicians were clamoring for a new lighthouse at the entrance to Lloyd Harbor. With the completion of the new light station, the old Lloyd Harbor beacon was discontinued on June 16, 1912.

The new lighthouse’s 4th-order Fresnel optic, transferred from the older tower, was fully automated in 1949 and removed from the site in 1967.

Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and Leased to the non-profit “Save Huntington’s Lighthouse,” the site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as Lloyd Harbor.

We then moved onto Eatons Neck Lighthouse, NY. One of America’s first lighthouses to be erected during the Colonial Revival design period (1790-1852). Located on a high bluff 144' above the sound, it warns ships off the rocky shoal that has seen more shipwrecks than any other shoal, outcropping, or cape on Long Island’s northern shore. One storm in December of 1811 was responsible for the loss of 60 ships and most of their crews.

The height of the original freestone lighthouse was raised to 73' in the late 1790s. Its tower was lined with brick in 1868. The original copper funnel used to dissipate upwards into the ventilator ball the heat generated by the huge lens remains under the dome and above the lens. The little vents below the lantern are copper ventilators that allow an intake of a cooling flow of air up and through the lens.

The original lighting apparatus, probably a multi-wicked spider lamp, was replaced in 1838 with another one of Lewis’ Argand-styled devices, consisting of 12 lamps with 13" reflectors. In order to increase the light’s nominal range, different lamp/reflector combinations were tried in 1842 and 1850. In 1858, after the tower had been altered and strengthened (1856-’57) to accept a larger lantern, the lighthouse was reequipped with a single shale-oil lamp and a Henri LePaute 3rd-order Fresnel lens. The electrically-powered lens continues to generate its light for almost 100 years of service.

One of Eatons Neck’s two foghorns, installed in 1871 and replaced in the 1940s, was found on the beach below the bluff, apparently having toppled off the eroding cliff from its resting site. The fog horn was to be restored and displayed on station, but the station does not have it.

Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, the station was scheduled for demolition in 1969, but was saved four years later after the Northport Historical Society submitted the historical and survey data required to have Eatons Neck in the National Register of Historic Places. Endangered due to its location on the edge of a cliff, the Coast Guard is faced with spending an estimated $10 million to stabilize the bluff and save the station.

The next light was Greens Ledge Lighthouse, CT, located on a rocky reef southwest of Sheffield Island, is a cast-iron structure, 52' tall that rests on a cast-iron caisson pier. It has an exterior of bolted cast-iron plates and an interior lined with brick. The tower has four interior decks and is surmounted by a gallery-equipped watchroom and lantern.

Its original light characteristic (flashing red), produced by a 5th-Order Fresnel lens installed in February 1901, proved to be a poor warning beacon. The lantern received a 4th-order Fresnel lens in May 1902 and the light's characteristic was changed to a combination of fixed white and flashing red. The lantern contains a modern rotating optic today, installed and automated in 1972.

The white (upper half) and brown (lower half) tower leans a bit as a result of damage incurred during September 1938 by a tremendously destructive hurricane. Public concern saved the old iron tower from being dismantled in 1971. The lighthouse is unmanned and boarded up.

Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, the light is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Captain Barry also has permission to dock at Sheffield Island (Norwalk Island, Norwalk, Smith Island) Lighthouse, CT, where Stan and I ate lunch while the others were given a tour of the lighthouse. We’d been here before with NELL and opted out of another tour. That reminds me, NELL members are given a discounted rate for this cruise, billed as “Castles of Long Island Sound”. If you’re in the area and wish to see lighthouses not normally viewed by other cruises, I recommend contacting Barry Natale at Now, back to lighthouses.

Sheffield Island Lighthouse was built by Captain Theodore Smith in 1868. It is a 2½-story dwelling and a tower that protrudes from the west gable end rises to a height of 46'. The structure's walls are constructed with rough finished gray, brown and pink granite-like (gneiss) stone. The tower is built with bolted cast-iron plates. It had a 4th-order Fresnel lens.

Listed (1/19/1989) in the National Register of Historic Places as Norwalk Island Light.

The next light was Peck Ledge Lighthouse, CT, completed in 1906, is the last lighthouse built in Long Island Sound. It is a cast-iron aid built atop a concrete filled cast-iron caisson. The truncated, boiler-plated tower is brick lined and has been assembled in three stages. The three levels contained living space for two keepers and storage areas. The tower is topped with a circular watchroom supporting the lantern. The lantern still has its original curved and diamond-shaped storm panes displaying a crisscross pattern.

The 54'-tall lighthouse was activated on July 10, 1906. Its optics have been changed several times: a flashing 4th-order Fresnel lens was the first, incandescent oil vapor replaced kerosene in 1932 (its luminous intensity was rated as 37,000 candlepower), the classical lens was removed and replaced by an acetylene-powered aerobeacon in 1939 (lowering its intensity to 210 candlepower), a 375 mm lens in 1989 (further reducing its candlepower) that was mounted on top of the lantern's roof, and, finally, the replacement of the roof mounted beacon by a smaller 250 mm lens installed inside the lantern in May 1988.

Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the boarded up lighthouse, unmanned when automated in 1933, is gradually succumbing to the effects of the weather and vandalism.

#70953 - 08/01/07 10:19 PM Re: Castles of Western Long Island Sound
sandy Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 12/10/02
Posts: 1964
Loc: Kent, CT
The last light for the day (except for a faux light within the harbor) was Stamford Harbor Ledge (Chatham Rocks), CT. Built on Chatham Rocks, located about 2/3 of a mile offshore of Stamford Harbor, the 1881-built cast-iron tower set on top of a cylindrical cast-iron caisson, is similar to a number of other lighthouses in the region. The sections were made at a Boston foundry, brought to the site, and bolted together on site.

Considered especially cramped and uncomfortable, the structure was not a favorite of the keepers assigned there.

Sold to the city of Stamford in exchange for a promise to use it as a historical site for at least 20 years in 1953, the city failed to maintain the site and returned it to the government in 1961. It was sold to investors in 1967 for $10,000, changed hands numerous times and resold in 1984 for $230,000 to a banker who spent another $300,000 renovating it for use as a residence. The owner’s wife has an aversion to boats and wanted no part of the 15-minute journey to and from the island where the structure is located. The banker passed away in 1998 and the lighthouse, which had been placed on the real estate market in 1996 for $1.1 million, was taken off the market. It is believed to still be owned by his family. It is not open to the public and the best views are from the water.

We returned to Veterans Memorial Park at 3:30 and headed back to Kent–about 2 hours away. Sunday found us departing with 18 other passengers from Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport, CT at 10:30 AM.

First lighthouse for photographs was Penfield Reef Lighthouse, CT. Construction on this light began in March of 1871 on the snakelike promontory with a head of sawtooth rocks. Two hundred years ago the peninsula was once a lush pasture and supported sheep and a dairy herd. Because of this association the rocks are known locally as "cows" or "calves." After the cattle and sheep had stripped away the vegetation and ballast hunters carried away the protective riprap, the peninsula underwent geological changes. First it formed as an island, then a sand bar, and finally a reef.

Built at a cost of $55,000, the pier's center is filled with concrete above the base level of the riprap to allow for the addition of a basement and cisterns. The top of the pier, originally covered with granite slabs, is now surfaced with concrete.

The 35'-tall lighthouse shows the influence of Second Empire styling with its square plan, quoins, foot-scrolled window surrounds and mansard roof. The square dwelling's first story walls are brick faced with rough granite ashlar with slightly protruding corners (quoins). The base of the structure is outlined in larger granite blocks. The wood-framed second story is contained within the mansard roof. The square tower rises from the second deck and at the third level becomes a 4-sided structure with beveled corners.

When occupied, the first deck held a parlor, galley and supply room. The second deck contained 4 bedrooms and the third level was the watchroom. Although the structure's interior lacks any ornamental detailing, it contains a spiraling stairway that begins at the first floor entry and ascends as an oval to the third floor's watchroom.

The reef's first optic was a standard 4th-order Fresnel lens powered by a kerosene lamp. It was placed in operation on January 16, 1874. By 1899 the lantern had a 4th-order Fresnel bull’s-eye lens rotated by a weighted clockwork mechanism manufactured in the lighthouse service's Thompkinsville, NY depot. The Fresnel optic has been replaced by a modern 1,000-watt lens.

The light marks Penfield Reef which extends into Long Island Sound from Shoal Point. To complicate navigation, this light has often been mistaken for the Stratford Shoal beacon, located midway between Long Island and Connecticut. Problem is that while the Stratford Shoal Lighthouse can be passed on either side, the Penfield Reef Lighthouse is passed only on the Long Island side. This restricted passage and some really violent storms have caused a significant number of shipwrecks.

Not much work has been done to preserve this boarded-up lighthouse and no governmental or private organization has yet expressed any interest in preserving this historic structure which was recently offered for sale for $1.

Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Next was Stratford Shoal Lighthouse, CT. Official maps place the lighthouse on the CT side of LI Sound by 1,000 feet, but it is frequently classified as a NY lighthouse. Early maps of LI Sound (1614) show 2 islands where the Stratford Shoal Lighthouse now stands. Since those maps were drawn, the sea has washed the islands off the map, leaving the dangerous Middleground Shoal measuring 3/4-mile long. The rocks were located roughly in the middle of LI Sound, 5.5 miles from Stratford Point, CT and 5 miles from Old Field Point, NY. Covered by less than 2' of water, the Shoal was a constant and dangerous threat to LI Sound ship traffic.

A lightship was placed at the southeastern edge of Stratford Shoal in 1838. Its single anchor was inadequate and after only 8 days of service, the ship drifted off position. Despite adding 2 larger anchors, the problem persisted for many years. During the winter of 1875, pack ice pushed the lightship aground at Orient Point. The ship was reported missing the following year and was finally found near Faulkner Island–over 20 miles away.

The Lighthouse Board recommended a lighthouse be built to replace the aging and troublesome lightship. Its foundation, built with huge undressed blocks of granite attached together with thick cast-iron stapes encased in lead, stands 19' tall. The interior of the foundation was filled with concrete, with a space left vacant for a brick-lined basement and 2 storage cisterns.

It’s nearly identical to the Race Rock, NY lighthouse, and is said to be haunted by the Second Assistant Keeper who committed suicide. Fully automated since 1970, much of its interior detailing has been taken out.

Next was Stratford Point Lighthouse, CT, originally a 28' tall wood-framed and shingled tower, erected in 1821 on the west side of the dangerous mouth of the Housatonic River. The station also included a small wooden keeper's dwelling. The revolving light consisted of 10 lamps and reflectors on two tables of 5 lamps each, 44' above the water which could be seen out to 12 nautical miles. In 1822 the tower was re-equipped with a Lewis 10-lamp Argand device that was given a flashing characteristic by a revolving clockwork-powered metal eclipser. The mechanism was manufactured by Simon Willard, a master clockmaker. During the mid-1850s the old tower received a 5th-order Fresnel lens. When the present brick lined tower was built in 1881, it was fitted with a Henri LePaute 3rd-order Fresnel lens and a kerosene-powered constant level lamp, both rotated by a clockwork mechanism. Stratford Point's tower consists of 5 rows of curved cast-iron plates bolted together though flanges cast at the plates' inner edges. Like that of Saybrook Breakwater, this unadorned tower's only feature of architectural interest is the conservative cast-iron styling of its molded windows surrounds, which are embellished with projecting shallow peaked lintels, recessed spandrels with cornices, and flanking consoles. In 1906 the lantern was equipped with a new 4th-order Fresnel lens that revolved in a trough of mercury. In 1932, the classical lens was re-equipped with an incandescent lamp. The tower's original lantern was removed in 1969 to facilitate the installation of oversized automated rotating aerobeacons. It was found, donated, and ceremoniously returned to the refurbished tower along with a modern lens on July 14, 1990.

The light station contains the 35' tall lighthouse, a 1½-story, wood-framed Gothic Revival keeper's dwelling built in 1881, and a brick fog signal building added in 1911. It is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and manned by a Station (Coast Guard) Keeper. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

#70954 - 08/01/07 10:22 PM Re: Castles of Western Long Island Sound
sandy Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 12/10/02
Posts: 1964
Loc: Kent, CT
Next was Tongue Point (Inner Harbor; Wells Point; Little Bug; Little Blackie; Bridgeport Breakwater) Lighthouse, CT. First built in 1891 at the end of a long breakwater pier. After years of complaints from commercial shipping companies that the sharp turn around the breakwater was a hazard to navigation, it was decided to do away with the pier. In 1919, after 350' of the inner breakwater had been torn down and added to the outer breakwater, the lighthouse was dismantled and moved 275' inland to its present location. Located within the confines of United Illuminating's Bridgeport Harbor Station, it is not open to the public. The inner surfaces of the tower's cast-iron wall and deck plates and brass fittings still show the painted numbers that facilitated the reassembly of the structure.

The 21' tall lighthouse rests on a 10' tall concrete pier, marking the east end of Tongue (Wells) Point, on the west shore of Bridgeport Harbor. The rings around the unlined and unadorned tower are formed by the overlapping of the tower's bolted sections. Because of its low profile, there are but two decks.

With no onsite living quarters, the keeper had to row out to the breakwater to service the light. And to make his task a bit more difficult there was, for the first 5 years, no structure upon which the keeper could land his boat. Although there were government proposals for the construction of a keeper's house at the end of a plank walk built in 1900 between the tower and the breakwater, the project never materialized. In 1906 the keeper, although having been supplied with a landing dock in 1896, built a shack on the breakwater to facilitate his tending the light.

During the tower's construction, it received a single kerosene lamp and a 6th-order Fresnel. The light was established in March of 1895 and automated in 1954. Although the classical lens was removed when a modern lens was installed in 1988, the Coast Guard did not remove the 1881 fog bell or its striking mechanism.

Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, Tongue Point was scheduled for deactivation in 1967, but public protests persuaded the Coast Guard to retain the beacon as an active aid to navigation. It is not listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The last stop for the day was Black Rock Harbor (Fayerweather; Fairweather Island) Lighthouse, CT. A 41'-tall rubble stone lighthouse was built in 1823 to replace the first beacon built on the southeast end of Fayerweather Island atop a small wooden tower built in 1808 and established in 1809 that endured until a gale toppled it in 1821.

The tower's double walls show an unusual construction technique—the builder filled the 8" space between the walls with wooden planks placed horizontally between layers of sand and small rubble stones.

The first lighting device was a whale-oil spider lamp. When rebuilt in 1823 the lantern received a Lewis optic, consisting of 8 lamps and 14" reflectors. Before the light's deactivation in March of 1933, it displayed a fixed white light intensified by a Fresnel-designed 5th-order lens installed in 1854.

Licensed to the City of Bridgeport since 1933, the Property is managed cooperatively by the Bridgeport Environmental Protective Commission and the Friends of Seaside Park. Restored in 1983, the lighthouse continued to be a popular target for vandalism and graffiti. The interior of the tower is gutted. In recent years a new preservation effort has been undertaken by the Black Rock Community Council. The plans call for protective riprap to be installed near the lighthouse and for all the masonry to be repointed. A 1998 restoration included paint and mortar carefully analyzed to restore it to its original color. Graffiti resistant paint was applied and vandal proof steel panes were installed in hopes that the restoration will hold up. The “windows” are false, but appear as glass from a distance.

Returned to Captain’s Cove dock around 12:30 PM and enjoyed lunch with 2 couples we sailed with.

Hope you’ve enjoyed your trip–we had a great time. Oh, BTW, received a notice in today’s mail that the Seaport Express will be providing transportation to this year’s Faulkner’s Island Open House which is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Faulkner’s Light Brigade. Stan and I have been on their wait list since 2004!!

#70955 - 08/01/07 11:10 PM Re: Castles of Western Long Island Sound
Lighthouse Loon Offline
Super Wacko

Registered: 07/21/06
Posts: 7144
Loc: Barnegat Bay
Sandy, Wow!!! Great lighthous pics !!!

A few I've never seen before. Thanks for the tour!!! cool
Stan M
New Jersey Lighthouse Lovers
Harry Wishlist: Tinicum Rear Range, Miah Maull Shoal, Finns Point, Bergen Point, Cross Ledge, Old Ambrose Lightstation, Romer Shoal, Barnegat Lightship, Liberty Lightship.

#70956 - 08/02/07 04:59 PM Re: Castles of Western Long Island Sound
kikigl Offline

Registered: 08/21/99
Posts: 862
Loc: St. Petersburg, Fl., USA
Loved the pictures, Sandy. The comentary was great.


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