The Watch Hill Light in
Watch Hill, (Westerly
Township), Rhode Island
still serves as an active aide to navigation although it was
automated in 1986.
In 1745 a watch tower was
established on the point giving the area its name. The first
light, a round wooden tower with fixed lamps was constructed in
1807. A rotating light was added in 1827.
Construction of the
current lighthouse began in 1855. The structure also contained a
two story brick light keeper's house. It's fixed white light
first shown forth on February 1, 1856.
There is a very dangerous
reef to the southwest of this light and there have been numerous
wrecks in the area. The most famous of these being the collision
of the steamer Metis
with an unnamed schooner in 1872. 33 passengers and crew were
saved by local residents, but 130 were lost to the sea. It was
because of this incident that a Life Saving Station
was established close by the lighthouse.
Great New England Hurricane of 1938,
the lighthouse suffered severe damage but managed to survive the
storm. The keeper stated that waves were breaking completely
over the top of the lighthouse.
NOTE: There were 30
lighthouses built to protect Rhode Island waters. Of these 21
are still standing.