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Castle Hill Lighthouse c.1895


In 1740, at the westernmost point of Newport, a watchtower was built to aid mariners into Newport Harbor. This was especially important during storms, squalls, and foggy weather.

The watchtower remained in use until around 1889, when, after a government appropriation for funding and tense negotiations with the landowner, 1.98 acres were deeded to the government for a proper lighthouse and fog signal.

The Fresnel lens of the 34’ granite Castle Hill lighthouse was first lit in 1890. Its flashing red light could be seen for 10 nautical miles. Its foghorn was equally strong, to the dismay of the adjacent property owner (who had originally owned the land).

A lighthouse keeper lived in a cottage a short distance away in Castle Hill Cove. When the light was automated and the Fresnel lens was replaced by a more modern device in 1957, his position was no longer necessary.

The catboats and gaff-rigged schooners sailing down to the mouth of Narragansett Bay and to the nearby open ocean were both pleasure and commercial craft. The land behind the boats is Conanicut Island, or Jamestown. The structures visible are grand summer “cottages”, mostly owned by wealthy Philadelphians who visited Jamestown during the summer months.

An archival image printed on 100% cotton rag paper using the carbon-based Piezography process