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Rose Island Lighthouse

rose island lighthouse

Newport, Rhode Island
Built in 1870


Newport Harbor on Rose Island, about a mile offshore. Daily trips to the lighthouse are offered during the summer months, and opportunities to stay overnight are available.

Latitude: 41° 29' 44" N
Longitude: 71° 20' 34" W


Historic Stories:

During the Revolutionary War, Rose Island was used use by both the British and the Colonists to defend Newport.

In 1894, the steamer Plymouth ran aground on Rose Island. Luckily all 700 passengers on board were offloaded with no injuries, but the ship remained stranded on the island for several weeks.

At Rose Island, the keepers grew crops and kept farm animals, which sometimes wandered from the lighthouse grounds into the military compound, causing some friction between the two posts. early Rose Island lighthouse

Early Rose Island Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

sailboat passes Rose Island light in the fog The Newport Harbor area can be engulfed in fog quite often. On August 7, 1958, two tankers collided in heavy fog near Fort Adams and burst into flames, killing 18 men.

One of the ships, the Graham, floated into Newport Harbor with the high tide ablaze in flames, passing within 200 yards of the Rose Island Light, thus forcing the keepers to flee the station. Luckily, the tide and wind then turned way from the shore and took the ship away from the lighthouse.

Charles Curtis became keeper in 1887, and his 31-year stay would be the longest in Rose Island's history.

With the building of the Newport Bridge in 1971, the lighthouse was closed and left to deteriorate over the years.

The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation was formed in 1984, as Newport acquired the lighthouse, to restore and maintain the lighthouse. Rose Island light with brige behind

After years of consistent restoration, Rose Island Lighthouse was relit in 1993

The current lighthouse serves as a living museum for tourists who would like to stay over and perform some of the lighthouse duties as the previous keepers did. The "guest keeper" program was established to help pay for the maintenance of the lighthouse.



Places to Visit Nearby:

The lighthouse and grounds are open daily during the summer months, with transportation to the island available aboard the Jamestown-Newport Ferry, which also makes stops at Jamestown, Newport, and Fort Adams.

Guests can also spend the night in one of two rooms located on the first floor of the lighthouse, or remain an entire week in the upper floor as keepers. Rose Island lighthouse

The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation provides information on day trips or overnight stays.

sailing vessel in newport harbor Newport is Rhode Island’s gateway for tourists with concerts and events.

Newport plays host to a number of festivals during the summer months, including the Newport Jazz Festival, Newport special waterfront events like the Great Chowder Cook Off, the Newport Folk Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, and the Newport International Boat Show.

Visitors can also choose from the many tours offered of Newport's elegant elaborate mansions of the rich and famous that shaped America’s 19th and 20th centuries, many of these are along Bellview Ave. Newport Breakers mansion

Breakers Mansion

There are also tours of the Newport Vineyards for wine tasting. Belcourt Castle offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and enjoy the atmosphere of the Gilded Age.

The Cliff Walk is 3.5 miles along an elevated path, where you'll get the chance to see the many mansions that define Newport along with picturesque views of the harbor. It begins at First Beach, or Easton's Beach, Newport's largest public beach with amusements, and finishes at the private Bailey's Beach. Newport offers plenty of beaches for visitors.

Other walks in Newport include the Newport Harbor Walk and the Ten Mile Ocean Drive with many of those miles you have public access to the shoreline, starting at the Breakers mansion.

Green Animals Topiary For a family treat head a litle northward in nearby Portsmouth RI, visit the Green Animals Topiary Garden estate where 21 of the 80 topiary trees in the gardens are sculpted in the likeness of various animals.


Contact Info:

Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation
P.O. Box 1419
Newport, RI 02840-0997
Phone: (401) 847-4242

Fog lifts by Rose Island lighthouse



Local Boat Tours and Ferries

Jamestown Newport Ferry
Operates daily during the tourist season with stops between Ann Street Pier, Perrotti Park, Fort Adams, Rose Island, and Jamestown. Visitors and can be dropped off and picked up by the ferry.
Lighthouses include: Goat Island and Rose Island.

1 East Ferry Wharf
Jamestown, RI 02835
Phone: (401) 423-9900


Coastal Queen Cruises
Offers weekly, narrated, lighthouse boat tours that surround the Newport Harbor and lower Narragansett Bay area. You'll have close up views of Rose Island Lighthouse, Castle Hill Light, Goat Island (Newport Harbor) Lighthouse and more. Tour boat provides maximum comfort with 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 


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 education on lighthouse and coastal preservation and provides nature and seal watching tours. For those who prefer a relaxing tour, 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


Snappa Charters
Offers specific lighthouse tours around Narragansett Bay and to Block Island in addition to other adventure tours like sport fishing, whale watching, and shark tagging.

Mailing Address: 2 Congdon Dr., Wakefield, RI 02816
Boat Location: 33 State Street, Narragansett, RI 02882
Boat/Cell (401) 487-9044


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 on the southern end of Narragansett Bay.

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


Books to Explore

book of the rise and demise of the largest sailing ships

To order a signed paperback copy:

Available also from bookstores in paperback, hardcover, and as an eBook for all devices.

my ebook on apple books

The Rise and Demise of the Largest Sailing Ships: Stories of the Six and Seven-Masted Coal Schooners of New England

In the early 1900s, New England shipbuilders constructed the world’s largest sailing ships amid social and political reforms. These giants of sail were built to carry massive quantities of coal and building supplies, and measured longer than a football field!

This book, balanced with plenty of color and vintage images, showcases the historical accounts that followed these mighty ships. These true stories include competitions, accidents, battling destructive storms, acts of heroism, and their final voyages.



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 to explore, and tours. You'll find detailed stories about rescues from Ida Lewis, the local hero, and plenty of other local stories. There are over 360 images to enjoy as well.

Look inside!

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England





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