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Hog Island Shoal Lighthouse

Hog Island lighthouse tower

Portsmouth, Rhode Island
Built in 1901



Narragansett Bay, in Bristol Harbor, at the entrance to Mount Hope Bay.

Latitude: 41° 37' 56" N
Longitude: 71° 16' 24" W



Historic Stories:

A dangerous reef, extending south from Hog Island to the main shipping channel, had become quite a problem to ferries and other vessels trying to navigate between the narrow passage of Mount Hope Bay and Narragansett Bay. In 1885, although a lighthouse was requested to be built on the reef, Congress decided to place the Eel Grass Shoal Lightship near the shoal. The vessel was previously used during the completion of Latimer Reef Lighthouse in Fisher’s Island Sound, a waterway between Connecticut and New York, and then sent to Hog Island. There it was renamed as the Hog Island Shoal Lightship. The vessel was a 72-foot wooden schooner, but was starting to need frequent repairs. The first captain of the newly moved lightship, Augustus Hall, ended up committing suicide a few months later. In 1889, the lightship developed serious leaks from its aging condition, and had to be removed for a number of months for repairs.

Congress was then faced with the problem of either building a new lightship, completely restoring Hog Island Shoal Lightship, or to build a new lighthouse. In 1895, after patching the lightship for a number of years, Congress finally decided to have a lighthouse built. The lightship continued having repairs made each year until funds were finally approved for the lighthouse in 1899.

Hog Island Lighthouse replaced the Hog Island Shoal Lightship in November of 1901, as the lightship was discontinued and sold at auction for a few hundred dollars. A few months before the lighthouse was activated, the lightship’s captain was dismissed for drinking on the job, and the assistant was made in charge until the operation was completed. Ernst Borgstrom, who had worked aboard Ram Island Reef Lightship, was appointed the first keeper of Hog Island Shoal Lighthouse with Adolph Aronson as his assistant. Aronson had served aboard Hog Island Shoal Lightship.

Hog Island Light was one of the last lighthouses in the nation to have electricity, and was fully automated in 1964. The lighthouse was recently put up for public auction and the winning bidder came from North Dakota.



Places to Visit:


Portsmouth is a small coastal town situated on Aquidneck Island, which is the largest island in Narragansett Bay, near Newport.

In Portsmouth, the Green Animals Topiary Garden is the oldest topiary garden in the United States. topiary animal in front of museum

The East Bay Bike Path is a scenic 14.5-mile paved trail, running from Bristol to Providence.



Local Boat Tour

Save the Bay Tours
Organization for lighthouse and coastal preservation provides nature and seal watching tours. For those who are not in a hurry, they provide an extensive 7-hour Ultimate Lighthouse Tour covering most of the lighthouses in Narragansett Bay. The cruise includes a stopover lunch to explore the grounds of Rose Isand Lighthouse.
100 Save the Bay Drive, Providence, RI 02905
Phone: (401) 272-3540 x103


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 in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions and tours.

Look inside!

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England




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