Beavertail Lighthouse

Nov. 13, 2019

Beavertail Lighthouse, entrance to Narragansett Bay, Conanicut Island, Jamestown, Rhode Island


Station Established: 1749; rebuilt 1753; rebuilt 1856
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1856
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1972
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: TIMBER/ROCK CRIB
Construction Materials: GRANITE
Tower Shape: SQUARE
Height:    45-feet; height of focal plane 68-feet
Characterisitc:    Flashes white light every six seconds
Relationship to Other Structure: ATTACHED
Original Lens: THIRD ORDER, FRESNEL 1856
Foghorn:    Horn one blast every 30 seconds (three second blast)


  • 1749: This was the third lighthouse to be built in the United States.
  • 1779: Conanicut Island had already gained fame from its association with the privateer, Captain William Kidd, during the late 1600s when Captain Kidd used the island as a hideout. During the Revolutionary War, the British burned the lighthouse when they left the area in 1779; the rubblestone tower survived the burning, but it was not fully repaired and back in operation until 1790. During the mid-1800s, the station had a true one-horse power fog signal; whenever the fog set in, the keeper walked his horse on a treadmill which operated a pump to provide pressure to the horn.
  • 1856: It is the third lighthouse on the site. The original optic in the 1856 square granite tower was a third-order Fresnel lens; it was replaced with a fourth-order Fresnel lens in 1899. The fourth-order lens was retired in 1991. It is currently equipped with a modern plastic lens (DCB 24).
  • 1938: The station was heavily damaged during the hurricane of 1938, but the tower survived.
  • The station was used for numerous fog signal experiments; signals tested included bells, horns, whistles, and trumpets, which were mounted on the foundation of the 18th century tower.
  • [Note to CCUSLHS Editor: There is a disagreement in the current light and its characteristic. It ranges from a fourth-order lens flashing a white signal (Rhode Island lights web site @; to flashing white "6s" with fourth-order lens on display in the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum (per America’s Atlantic Coast Lighthouses, A Traveler’s Guide, 2nd Edition); to fourth-order lens flashes green light (per Northern Lighthouses, by Bruce Roberts and Ray Jones). Current status, as indicated above, is according to the Light List, Vol. 1, Atlantic Coast, 1999.]