Built in 1829
About 1 ½ miles from Greenwich’s Field Point on Great Captain Island. The Greenwich Parks Ferry provides access to the lighthouse and the surrounding grounds from the ferry dock on Arch Street. The island is open to the public during the summer months and lighthouse grounds are open to the public.
|Latitude: 40° 58' 54"||Longitude: 73° 37' 24" W|
New England Lighthouses
Here is the case where the government purchased the land before the actual site selection was made. When the Great Captain Island lighthouse was built in 1829, there was dispute as to whether it was in Connecticut or New York. This dispute continued for nearly 50 years until the decision went to Connecticut.
During prohibition days, the island was used by bootleggers to dilute smuggled liquor, which was then brought to the mainland for resale to many thirsty clients. Beginning in the 1920's, a private beach and casino was in full operation at the island for many years until it mysteriously burned to the ground one night in 1947. The owners sued the Coast guard, claiming it was lit from one of their flares while they were searching for a downed pilot. The Coast Guard paid the owners nearly $20,000 in damages in 1951.
Today Great Captain's Island is part of a nesting bird reserve and inhabits the largest concentration of white egrets in Connecticut.
Places to Visit Nearby:
Greenwich hosts many recreational parks for locals and visitors alike, along with summer concerts. The Bruce Museum promotes arts and science to enrich those that visit.
The Greenwich Parks Ferry provides access to the lighthouse and the surrounding grounds from the ferry dock on Arch Street, for quiet picnicking and a tiny isolated beach. Non-residents will need to purchase a daily park pass at the town hall, or other designated locations. There are no amenities on this island except for a water bubbler and half of this tiny 1/4-mile island is part of a wildlife sanctuary for nesting birds. It boasts as having the largest population of white egrets on the coast. It's like having your own private island, very quiet except for the thousands of birds. The views of shoreline mansions as you head out on the ferry from the harbor to the island are also quite remarkable.
Directions to the Ferry
From the West: Take US I-95 North, then take Exit 3 to Arch Street toward Greenwich, look for Greenwich Business District Signs. Locate the town hall to get your pass to take the ferry or you won't be allowed on.
From Arch Street, turn right onto Railroad Avenue and the dock will be on your left.
Take the ferry to Great Captain Island Lighthouse. The ferry leaves the Greenwich dock every hour, and picks up from the island every hour on the half (1:30, 2:30, 3:30, etc.).
Stamford Historical Society
1508 High Ridge Road
Stamford, CT 06903
Telephone: (203) 329-1183
Note: For stories of famous lighthouse events and folklore, check out the Lighthouse Stories section of this website. There you'll also find info on my book “New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues, and Other Tales” with over 40 stories and 160 images, which you can purchase from Schiffer Books Publishing.
In the book you'll find detailed accounts of Connecticut's haunted lighthouses, the steamship Lexington fire which became the worst maritime disaster in Connecticut's history, and of one of the most colorful and talented lighthouse keepers in Connecticut, Oliver Brooks.
Local Boat Tours
Greenwich Parks Ferry
Provides access to the lighthouse and the surrounding grounds from the ferry dock.
Sound Navigation offers a variety of informative lighthouse tours underway on Long Island Sound, which includes the southwestern portion of Connecticut's coastline and the north shore of Long Island Sound. They also provide special sunset cruises and private charters. You'll enjoy up-close and personal views with Captain Barry of the many "Castles of Long Island Sound" from the deck of the Seaport Express.
Phone (203) 219-3688
Email Captain Barry: firstname.lastname@example.org