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Minot's Ledge Lighthouse

Minots Ledge lighthouse

Cohasset, Massachusetts
Built in 1850


Location:

On a treacherous ledge just outside the entrance of Boston Harbor. Can only be viewed by boat.

Latitude: 42° 16' 12" N
Longitude: 70° 45' 30" W

 

Historic Stories:

Minot's Ledge is a narrow ledge that is covered over in high tides. In 1847 a survey showed that at least 40 lives were lost at the site from dozens of shipwrecks on the ledge.

Minot's Ledge is known as the "I love you" light, named for its 1-4-3 flashing pattern.

early Minots Ledge light
Illustration of the First
Minot's Ledge Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

The original lighthouse took three years to build from 1847-1850, and was built as a lantern perched on a skeletal iron tower so as not to be blown over by the strong winds, so the engineers believed. It was lit on January 1, 1850.

When the new lighthouse was built, the first Keeper Isaac Dunham complained of the unsafe conditions of the wave-swept ledge and the constant shaking and swaying of the tower. Even his cat went crazy and jumped off the tower to its death. He quit after only nine months on duty.

 

Destruction of the Lighthouse

Dunham's replacement, Keeper John Bennett also complained, and in April 16, 1851, the tower was destroyed by huge tidal surges and giant waves caused by hurricane force winds from one of New England's most powerful nor’easter storms, killing the two assistant keepers, Joseph Wilson and Joseph Antoine, who were left on duty. Wilson's body was found washed ashore near nearby Gull island, and Antoine's body was washed ashore onto Nantasket Beach.

Because of the destruction of the lighthouse, the storm was given the name the "Lighthouse Storm" as appropriate for the history books.

A light ship was brought in temporarily and new construction began in 1855 of a stone tower made of granite, hailed as the greatest achievement in lighthouse engineering. Construction took time as many construction workers were swept off the rocks by the pounding waves, even at low tide.  For safety reasons, only workers who could swim were allowed on the project.

Two years later during the construction, the ship the New Empire crashed on the rocks and destroyed most of the lighthouse. The lighthouse was finally completed three years later in 1860, as one of the most expensive lighthouses to be built in the nation’s history.

It is still considered to be one of the top engineering feats of the old United States Lighthouse Service. Minots Ledge new construction
Construction Plans of
Current Minot's Ledge Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

Note: The bell from the original Minot's Ledge Lighthouse that was destroyed in New England's most devastating storm now rings from the tower of the Bryant Pond Baptist Church in Bryant Pond, Maine.

There are still paranormal sightings and sounds coming from the lighthouse believed to be the two assistant keepers watching out for mariners.

Note: For more explicit details into the desctruction of Minot's Ledge lighthouse, select the link "Lighthouse Storm" at the top of the page above. For details into the hauntings of Minot's Ledge light, select the link "Ghost Keepers" at the top of the page, to be directed to my Lighthouse Stories blogs.

 

 

 

Places to Visit:

Once in a while Friends Of Boston Harbor Islands may pass by the lighthouse during their harbor tours, although rarely done these days, call ahead of time. Sometimes you'll find mariners hanging out in Cohasset Harbor by their boats and you can have them charter you out to visit the lighthouse.

Cohasset is a friendly coastal town with three historical museums, two beaches, and the Whitney and Thayer Woods Reservation for hiking and recreation. Visitors will enjoy great scenic views of opulent homes and unique architecture, and lots of ocean views when driving along the coastal shore road.

Check out the South Shore Music Service where many visitors come to enjoy great concerts of all kinds of genres of music.

Nearby in Hull, The Hull Lifesaving Museum, provides maritime exhibits, educational workshops and tours, and open water rowing competitions for young adults. For those who want to step into the footsteps of lighthouse history, the museum is housed in the former Point Allerton US Lifesaving Station, opened in 1889, where, under the leadership of Captain Joshua James appointed there at age 63, with his lifesaving crews supported by the Massachusetts Humane Society, saved many lives during his 13 years there. Captain James has been credited with being involved in helping save over 500 lives since he was a teenager.

You can also visit the Paragon Carousel, one of the oldest carousels in existence.

Next door, in Hingham, relax at the Wompatuck State Park.

 

 

Contact Info:
Cohasset Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 336
Cohasset, MA 02025
Phone: (781) 383-1010

 

 

My book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, published by Schiffer Publishing, provides special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions and tours you can explore, with contact info to plan your vacation.

In the book you'll find local stories from all lighthouses in the Boston area region, including more details about Minot's Ledge light. Yes, it's considered haunted too.

Look inside!

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England

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