Clarks Point Light

July 22, 2019

Clarks Point Light, New Bedford, Massachusetts


Location: Fort Taber, entrance to New Bedford Harbor and Acushnet River
Station Established: 1797
First Lit: 1869
Operational: Yes
Automated: Yes- 2001
Deactivated: 1898 - 2001
Foundation Material: Stone
Construction Material: Stone and wood
Tower Shape: Short cylindrical tower with black lantern on rectangular building
Markings: 59’ High white washed stone tower with black lantern
Relationship to Other Structures: Integral
Original Lens: 
Tower Height: 68 ft above sea level
Range: – 9 miles
Original Optic: 
Present Optic: 250 mm acrylic lens
Characteristic: Fixed white
First Keeper: Henry Smith
Current Use: Private active aid to navigation
Fog Signal: None 
National Register Status

Historical Information:

* Clarks Point an ideal location for a navigational aid to help mariners heading to Bedford. Local merchants erected the 1st wooden lighthouse on the point in 1797. Little is known about this structure. This structure burned down approximately 1 year later.
* The Columbian Courier of Oct. 16, 1799 reported that a new lighthouse had been completed and lit for the 1st time on Oct. 12.
* Apparently on Aug. 5 1803 lightning destroyed this lighthouse. The following March Congress approved $2,500 for the rebuilding of the lighthouse.
* An octagonal rubble stone tower 38’ tall was built in 1804.
* In 1818 extensive renovations were done which included an increase of height and the installation of a new octagonal iron lantern.
* In 1857 a fort was built next to the lighthouse. It was named Fort Taber in honor of the city’s mayor. It was officially renamed Fort Rodman in 1898. Most still know it as Fort Taber.
* The high walls of the fort eventually blocked the view of the light. In 1869 a rectangular wooden tower was erected on the northern tower of the fort. The lantern from the old stone tower was relocated to the new structure and went into service on June 15,1869. The old stone tower remained standing until 1906, when it was demolished.
* In 1898 the establishment of Butler Flats Light off shore rendered Clarks Point Light obsolete. The light on the fort was discontinued in April 1898.
* After restoration a relighting ceremony was held on the evening of Friday June 15, 2001- The 132nd anniversary of the lighthouse first illumination.
Researched and written by Linda Herman, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.