Penfield Reef Lighthouse

Sept. 24, 2019

Penfield Reef Lighthouse, south side of Black Rock Harbor, entrance of Long Island Sound, Fairfield, Connecticut

Built in 1874.


Location: South side of Black Rock Harbor entrance on the Long Island Sound, Near Fairfield, Connecticut
Station Established: 1874
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1874
Operational: Yes
Automated: 1971
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: Granite Caisson
Construction Materials: Wood / Granite
Tower Shape: Octagonal
Height: 51 feet above water
Markings/Pattern: White with black lantern
Characteristic: Flashing red, 5 seconds
Relationship to Other Structure: Integral
Original Lens: Fourth Order, Fresnel
Fog Signal: Horn, 2d cl. reed: Blast 3 seconds, silent 17 seconds

Historical Information:

  • The Penfield Reef was reportedly one of the most dangerous areas to navigate on the Long Island Sound. The Penfield Reef Light was constructed in 1874.  It is one of the last offshore masonry lights.  Most off shore lights built after this were cast iron towers built on cylindrical cast iron foundations.
  • The 35-foot tower had an fourth order Fresnel lens.
  • The Penfield Reef Light saw many tragedies throughout the years.  The most well known occurred on December 22, 1916.  Keeper Frederick A. Jordan left for the mainland to join his family for Christmas.  His boat capsized.  Due the size of the waves and speed of the wind, Assistant Keeper Rudolph Iten was not able to lower the lighthouse boat and rescue the head keeper.
  • The light is an active aid to navigation.

Researched and written by Melissa Buckler, a Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Light House Society volunteer.