Rhode Island Lighthouses

Newport Harbor Lighthouse
(Goat Island Lighthouse)

Newport Harbor Lighthouse

Location: North End of Goat Island
Location: 1823 - 1842 Lat 41 29 30 N - Long 71 19 38 W
Location: 1842 - present l Lat 41 29 36 N - Long 71 19 37 W
Established: 1823

Original Lighthouse Constructed: 1823
Current Lighthouse Constructed: 1842
Automated: 1963
Original Illuminating Apparatus: Eight Lamps and Reflectors (1823)
Second Illuminating Apparatus: Fourth Order Fresnel lens (1857)
Third Illuminating Apparatus: Fifth Order Fresnel Lens
Fourth Illuminating Apparatus: 250-mm lens
Current Illuminating Apparatus: 300-mm lens (1994)
Height: 35 feet
Status: Active Aid to Navigation/Leased to the American Lighthouse Foundation
Light Characteristic: Fixed White (1873)

Light Characteristic: Fixed White for 15 seconds (1894)
Light Characteristic: 5 second eclipse

Light Characteristic: Fixed Green (2005)
Range: 11 miles (1873)
Range: 10½ miles (1906)
Range: 11 miles (2005)
Fog Signal: Bell Struck By Machinery (1912)
Fog Signal: Electric Bell (1952)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times (1912)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 15 Seconds
Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 15 Seconds

Fog Signal Characteristic: Bell Struck 1 Times (1952)
Fog Signal Characteristic: Silent for 10 Seconds
Location: Established: Original Lighthouse Constructed: Current Lighthouse Constructed: Automated: Original Illuminating Apparatus: Second Illuminating Apparatus: Third Illuminating Apparatus: Fourth Illuminating Apparatus: Current Illuminating Apparatus: Height: Status: Light Characteristic: Range: Fog Signal: Fog Signal Characteristic:

Newport Harbor Lighthouse is located on the northern tip of Goat Island. It was the second lighthouse built on the island. The first lighthouse, Goat Island Lighthouse, was built in 1823 on the northern tip of a smaller goat island. A six-room keeper's dwelling was built near the lighthouse. Even with the light, ships rounding the northern part of Goat Island would sometimes go aground on the shoal near the island. In the late 1830s the Lighthouse Establishment decided to move the lighthouse off Goat Island and place it on the shoal.

Approximate Location of 1823 Goat Island Lighthouse
This is the location of the 1823 Goat Island Lighthouse. This was the northern tip of Goat Island at that time. The island has been extended almost 1200 feet since then.

In 1837, a stone tower and granite pier was built on the northern tip of the shoal. It remained unlighted until 1842, when a breakwater connecting it to Goat Island was completed. The original light was discontinued and its lighting apparatus was moved to the new light tower. The old light was moved to Prudence Island in 1852.

With its move off of Goat Island the light was renamed the Newport Harbor Lighthouse in the 1850's. A fourth order Fresnel lens was placed in the light in 1857. A new keeper's dwelling, attached to the light, was built in 1864.

On June ninth, 1912 a launch from the destroyer Mayrant was taking eight sailors back to the ship. A squall hit the launch and capsized it, throwing the sailors into the water near the lighthouse. Charles Schoeneman, Newport Harbor's lighthouse keeper, rescued three of the sailors. Boats from other Navy ships in Newport Harbor saved the rest.

In 1921, the U.S. submarine N-4 hit the Newport Harbor Lighthouse keeper's dwelling's foundation. It tore some of the granite blocks out of the foundation. This made the keeper's dwelling uninhabitable. The damaged keeper's dwelling was torn down and the lighthouse was electrified the next year. The Navy personnel at the Goat Island Torpedo station took over operation of the lighthouse. The Navy personnel at the Goat Island Torpedo station replaced Charles Schoeneman as the lighthouse keeper. It was automated in 1963.

In the 1960's Goat Island was abandoned by the Navy and was deserted. This meant Newport Harbor Lighthouse was unprotected. In September 1967 Newport Harbor Lighthouse was damaged by vandals. They broke in and stole a photo cell that controlled the light and damaged the lens.

In the early 1970s the land between the Island and Newport Harbor lighthouse was filled, when Goat Island was redeveloped. The Colonial Hilton Hotel was built on the site of Goat Island's first lighthouse. The hotel has gone through several ownership and name changes. It is currently owned by Gurney's Resorts and is named Gurney's Newport.

In 2000, the Coast Guard leased the light to the American Lighthouse Foundation.

See more of Newport Harbor Light in Rhode Island Lighthouses: A Pictorial History by R Holmes.

For information on the American Lighthouse Foundation, contact:

The American Lighthouse Foundation
P.O. Box 565
Rockland, ME 04841

Updated 9/29/2020