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Ida Lewis Rock
(Lime Rock) Lighthouse

Ida Lewis lighthouse

Newport, Rhode Island
Built in 1854


On Lime Rock on the southern side of Newport Harbor, there is a small lighthouse atop the building managed by the private Ida Lewis Yacht Club. Public access is prohibited and views can best be obtained by boat.

Latitude: 41° 28' 39" N
Longitude: 71° 19' 34" W

Ida Lewis light


Historic Stories:

With traffic increasing into and out of Newport Harbor, a group of ledges located a mere 900 feet from shore known as the lime rocks, were responsible for many local shipwrecks and wreaked havoc with mariners during fierce storms. The rock formations were made of limestone, and after many petitions, a tiny lighthouse was built on Lime Rock, the largest rock, with Hosea Lewis appointed as its first keeper. Soon after he and his family moved into their new home, Lewis suffered a paralyzing stroke, and needed assistance from his wife who was also in poor health trying to take care of their invalid daughter. Their other daughter Idawalley, whom all referred to as Ida, took over most of the lighthouse duties and management and became involved in many rescues over the years.


Rhode Island's Most Famous Keeper - Ida Lewis

One of the most famous heroines of the period, Ida Lewis, was famous for dozens of rescues. Her teenage years were spent as the lighthouse keeper’s daughter taking care of her sick father, who had suffered a crippling stroke, then as a young woman completely taking over the lighthouse and its duties while her mother took care of her invalid sister. Her first rescue was in the fall of 1858, as a 16-year-old teenager.

Ida became Keeper after her mother retired in 1879. Among her many awards, in 1880, she became the first female to receive the gold medal for heroism from the Carnegie Foundation.

vintage image of Ida Lewis light known previously as Lime Rock light

Ida Lewis (Lime Rock) Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

early image keeper Ida Lewis potrait
Image Courtesy of
US Coast Guard

In 1881, she was awarded another medal from the United States Lifesaving Service for saving two soldiers from Fort Adams.

She remained keeper until 1911, where she died at the lighthouse she had faithfully attended for over 60 years at the age of 69.

Note: For more historic details of the rescues and about her life, select the links provided at the top of the page to my Lighthouse Stories section. 



Places to Visit:

Newport has one of the highest concentrations of preserved colonial homes in New England. Visit the Museum of Newport History to learn about Newport’s rich history and architectural beauty in its many mansions. Tourists from all over the world come to visit its many attractions including it’s most elaborate mansions with tours of the rich and famous that shaped America’s 19th and 20th centuries. They include the Marble House, the Breakers, the Hunter House, Elms, Rosecliff, the Chateau-sur-Mer, Chepstow, the Kingscote, the Isaac Bell House, and Belcourt Castle which offers another unique opportunity to step back in time and enjoy the atmosphere of the Gilded Age.

The lighthouse is now part of the private Ida Lewis Yacht Club, but it can be viewed from a pier adjacent to the yacht club. The lighthouse is best viewed by boat from one of the many harbor cruises offered for tourists.

tiny Ida Lewis lighthouse sits atop yaucht club building





Local Boat Tours

Boat cruises mentioned below offer many types of cruises. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises, some will pass by specific lighthouses as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, ferrying passengers, fishing tours and other types of excursions. Enjoy!

Jamestown Newport Ferry
They provide daily service to five stops: Jamestown, Rose Island Lighthouse and Newport's Fort Adams, Ann Street Pier and Perrotti Park. Cruises and tours around Newport Harbor also available.


Rhode Island Fast Ferry
Offers weekly lighthouse tours in season. Their narrated high-speed ferry cruises cover ten Rhode Island lighthouses in Narragansett Bay. They also provde ferry services to Martha's Vineyard and Block Island. On Martha's Vineyard, they provide a narrated 2.5-hour sightseeing island tour on a scheduled bus.

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


Save the Bay Tours
Organization for lighthouse and coastal preservation and provides nature and seal watching tours. During select summer dates, they provide an extensive 7-hour Ultimate Lighthouse Tour covering most of the lighthouses in Narragansett Bay.
100 Save the Bay Drive, Providence, RI 02905
Phone: (401) 272-3540 x103


Classic Cruises of Newport
Newport Harbor excursions aboard a newly restored Elco Motor Yacht, called the Rumrunner, built during prohibition in 1929 for local bootleggers, or go sailing on the 72-foot Schooner Madeleine, the 80-foot Schooner Adirondack II, or 48-foot Sloop Eleanor, which include sunset sails. All offer views by the Newport lighthouses, and they have a special "Lighthouses and Mimosas" Cruise to view those lighthouses in the southern end of Narragansett Bay.

22 Bowens Wharf, Newport RI 02840
Main Office: 401-862-8441
Tickets: (401) 847-0000


Coastal Queen Cruises
Offers weekly, narrated, lighthouse tours to bring you up close to the lighthouses that surround the Newport Harbor and lower Narragansett Bay area. Tour boat has a weatherproof interior that can be heated on chilly days. 

5 Bowen's Landing, Bowen's Wharf 
Newport, RI 02840
Phone: (401) 423-9900 x1 

Lighthouses: Newport Harbor Lighthouse, Ida Lewis Lighthouse, Rose Island Lighthouse, and Castle Hill Lighthouse. 



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. Here you'll find detailed stories of rescues by not only Ida Lewis, but plenty of other stories and rescues made by keepers in each lighthouse region.

Look inside!

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England





New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues & Other Tales

This image-rich book contains over 50 stories of famous shipwrecks and rescues around New England lighthouses, and also tales of hauntings that occurred.

You'll find more details and imagery on the life and legacy, including various rescue stories, by Ida Lewis at Lime Rock Light.

You'll find this book and others I've written from the publisher Schiffer Books, or in many fine bookstores like Barnes and Noble.



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