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Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

Block Island Southeast lighthouse

Block Island (New Shoreham), Rhode Island
Built in 1875


Atop Mohegan Bluffs, moved 200 feet from the cliff on Block Island, Rhode island.

Latitude: 41° 09' 10" N
Longitude: 71° 33' 04" W

Historic Stories:

The town of New Shoreham, which comprises all of Block Island has the distinction of being the smallest town in the smallest state.

Block Island Southeast, with its location atop Mohegan Bluffs, is designated as New England’s highest lighthouse with its 52-foot red brick tower, making it 258 feet over sea level.

The completed lighthouse, in its gothic type architecture, was known as one of the grandest in the nation. It was built during Block Island's time as a major resort, which accounts for its ornate architecture.

early Block Island Southeast light with surrounding buildings

Vintage Block Island
Southeast Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

It was documented in 1880 that the lighthouse needed 1000 gallons of oil and over 60 tons of coal to operate efficiently each year.

Off the lighthouse shoreline lie some of the world's finest and largest giant bluefin tuna, bluefish, swordfish and maulin recorded.

Right after the hurricane of 1938 went through, with much of the building and electrical power destroyed, but no casualties, the Keepers had to turn the massive lens by hand for several days until power could be restored.

In 1939, a huge burning gas spill was created from a Texaco gas tanker that got caught in a fog and wrecked near the Mohegan bluffs. Although there were no injuries, the Coast Guard had to sink it for safety reasons and has become a popular scuba diving site.

Over the years the Mohegan cliffs were eroding dangerously close to the lighthouse and there was the fear of the lighthouse falling over the bluff into the sea from the powerful storms that constantly pounded the shoreline.

vintage image Block Island Southeast light

Block Island Southeast Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

Funding was acquired and in 1993, the lighthouse was moved to its present location about 300 feet from the cliff edge. It took nineteen days, using 800,000 pounds of steel to support the building, with 38 jacks capable of lifting 60 tons each, to move it to its new location, and it had to be moved in a zigzag pattern, to minimize structural stress. The over 120-year old brick lighthouse with the attached keeper’s building weighed in at over four million pounds. Before the move, the priceless first order Fresnel lens had to be removed. After the move, the lens was replaced with a first-order lens from Cape Lookout Light located in North Carolina.

Block Island Southeast Light was relighted on August 27, 1994.



Places to Visit Nearby:

Block Island with its 19th century architecture, 17 miles of beaches, over 30 miles of trails for hikers and bikers, and many cultural and community events, is one of Rhode Island’s most popular destinations for local day trips and long-term visits alike.

You'll find most of this island seems stuck in the 19th and early 20th centuries. hotels amd buildings along Blaock Island harbor

The two-mile Crescent Beach area consists of four beaches: Frederick J. Benson Beach, Scotch Beach, Mansion Beach, and close to the ferry landing is Ballard’s. Crescent beach provides picturesque biking trails, and is part of the Greenway network system of trails encompassing 30 miles of pathways that lead from Rodman’s Hollow, to huge clay cliffs along the coastline.

beach on Block Island If you want more seclusion, just a few minutes bike ride away are deserted beaches.

With miles of open beaches you can fish from the beach, or take a charter boat leaving from New Harbor for bluefish, striped bass and flounder.

The best ways to get around the island, are first to leave your car at the ferry dock on the mainland, take a taxi, rent a moped, rent a horse, or just bike of hike your way around the island.

You can take the Mohegan Trail from the village of Old Harbor out to the Bluffs.

The Mohegan Trail leads around the 200-foot cliffs of Mohegan Bluffs with great views of the ocean and shoreline. To actually get to the beach, you'll have to walk down more than 140 stairs and climb over some rocks and boulders.

rock cairn on Block Island beach Visitors will find the constantly growing outdoor gallery of rock “cairns” or rock sculptures nearby to explore.

Southeast Lighthouse has a small museum and the grounds are open to the public with tours of the lighthouse offered in the summer. For great cliff views above the shoreline, explore the Mohegan Bluffs near the lighthouse grounds.

For the family, visit the Abrams Animal Farm and petting zoo to experience an array of exotic animals up close

For the more adventurous you can go kayaking from New Harbor in the Great Salt Pond.




Contact Info:

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse Foundation
Box 949
Block Island, RI 02807
(401) 466-5009



Block Island Ferries and Charter Service

Block Island Ferry
(401) 783-4613
Block Island is accessible by ferry from Point Judith, RI.
Take Sandhill Cove Road from Point Judith lighthouse, to Galilee ferry landing.
Ferry service to Block Island is also available from Montauk Point, NY and New London, CT.


Block Island Express
Leaves out of New London, CT
(860) 444-4624



Snappa Charters
Offers specific lighthouse tours around Narragansett Bay and to Block Island in addition to other adventure tours.

(401) 782-4040
22 Colvintown Rd.
Coventry, RI 02816
Home (401) 821-7373
Boat/Cell (401) 487-9044



Air Services To and From Block Island

New England Airlines, Westerly State Airport, Westerly, RI, (401) 596-2460, (800) 243-2460

Shoreline Aviation, New Haven CT, (800) 468-8639




My book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, 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.

Look inside!

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England


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