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North Conanicut Island Lighthouse

north conanicut island lighthouse

Jamestown, Rhode Island
Built in 1886


North end of Conanicut Island. Private residence.

Latitude: 41° 34' 25" N
Longitude: 71° 22' 18" W


Historic Stories:

The Wickford Rail and Steamboat Company operated a ferry between Newport and Wickford, in Narragansett Bay, also operating a light beacon on the northern tip of Conanicut Island for the ferry captains’ livelihood. In 1882, the company became one of the forces behind a petition asking for an official lighthouse on the site, as the company would also benefit with the new light. Construction was approved and a site chosen in 1884, but was delayed because one of the land owners was still in Europe. Construction began in 1885.

While building the Conanicut North Island lighthouse, a temporary beacon was put up at that time during the winter of 1886. Still, it wasn't effective enough to keep the steamer Eolus from running aground on the rocks nearby during a blinding snowstorm. Luckily, nobody was injured in the incident.

vintage image of conanicut lighthouse
Vintage image courtesy of
US Coast Guard

The first keeper at North Conanicut Island light, Horace W. Arnold, was an eighth-generation descendant of Benedict Arnold.

He was famous for an incident that occurred previously at another station, at nearby Conimicut lighthouse, one winter in 1875. As heavy ice floes were seriously threatening the lighthouse, Arnold decided, along with his son to abandon the station, where they threw a mattress on top of an ice flow to escape the danger. They were rescued by the tug Reliance, a few hours later. Both Keeper Arnold and his son were both hospitalized for frostbite. Some years after the ice flow incident; he applied for and received the appointment for the comfortable North Conanicut Island Light where he served for 13 years.

Conanicut Island lighthouse on water's edge

The lighthouse was sold at auction in 1934 for $2,874.



Places to Visit Nearby:

Jamestown is located on Conanicut Island connected by bridges from the Newport area.

lobster boat leaving Jamestown Harbor

Lobster Boat Leaving
Jamestown Harbor.

It is an area filled with history, 18th and 19th century architecture, and hosts many community events.

There are a host of parks with trails and small wildlife refuges for birding for visitors to relax and enjoy.

Beavertail lighthouse over unique rock formations Beavertail lighthouse is located in Beavertail State Park for picnicking and hiking. Be sure to also visit the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum.

Other museums in the area include include Watson Farm, a living history museum that offers a glimpse into the way most people lived in Jamestown for three hundred years; the Jamestown Fire Department Memorial Museum collection of antique fire fighting equipment (across the street from the town fire dpepartment), the Sydney L. Wright Memorial Museum collection of artifacts from ancient and Colonial period Narragansett Indians and Seventeenth Century Europeans found in Jamestown in 1966 and 1967; and the Jamestown Museum collection of ferry system memorabilia, historic photos, maps, and other items that help tell the story of Jamestown's history. There are more than 40 museums located within 40 minutes of Jamestown.

Fort Wetherill State Park is situated on top of 100 foot high granite cliffs for a spectacular view of Narragansett Bay. Charter fishing is available at the Dutch Harbor Boat Yard.




Directions for a Distant View:

Best views of the lighthouse are from the water, as it is a provate residence without access to visitors. To get a partial view the lighthouse from the street:



Local Boat Tours

North Conanicut lighthouse is best viewed by boat. Boat cruises mentioned below offer many types of cruises, including specific lighthouse cruises.


Rhode Island Bay Cruises
Offers weekly lighthouse tours in season. Their narrated cruise covers 10 Rhode Island Lighthouses in Narragansett Bay along with a complete Newport Harbor Tour.

1347 Roger Williams Way
North Kingstown, RI 02852
Phone: (401) 295-4040


Save the Bay Tours
Special organization for lighthouse and coastal preservation. In addition to various educational, nature, and historical tours, they provide an Ultimate Lighthouse Tour, and Southern and Northern Bay Lighthouse Tours on specific days during the summer. Tours may include stopovers to tour inside a particular lighthouse.
100 Save the Bay Drive, Providence, RI 02905
(401) 439-0670



My 300-page 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 nearby and various boat tours.

Look inside!

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England





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