Stonington Harbor/Old Lighthouse Museum Lighthouse
30 feet high, at sea level, Stonington
September 3, 2010
When I compiled my Observation Towers and Views list, I initially left off our state’s climbable lighthouses. Boy, was that dumb. One of the many CTMQ micro-cultures are the “Tower guys” who have an affinity for a) 360-degree view towers and b) lists.
If I was going to create the definitive list of these things, I better darn well include the lighthouses that offer views to the public – if only once in a blue moon. Lists should be challenging, after all.
Fortunately, this lighthouse is open all the time via your Old Lighthouse Museum admission and requires no water passage or special permission. Alas, it’s not exactly tall, but you don’t really need tall at sea level with no trees, right?
After viewing the museum (CTMQ Visit here), I made my way up the granite spiral staircase leading to the lighthouse tower’s lantern room. It’s a tight spiral to say the least.
And voila! A beautiful (if a little cramped) view of the Borough of Stonington, Water Street and Little Narragansett Bay!
This lighthouse was once the beacon for the many vessels approaching Stonington’s harbor from Long Island Sound. The original 30-foot stone tower, which was built on the Point in 1823, supported a lantern containing ten oil lamps and parabolic reflectors. Its beacon was visible 12 miles at sea.
During the next few years, however, storms and shore erosion took their toll on the exposed site. In 1840 the structure was dismantled and the materials used to build a new tower and keeper’s dwelling on the present site. The light remained active until 1889 when a beacon was installed on the outer end of a new breakwater protecting the harbor entrance.
Visitors of all ages enjoy climbing the old iron steps of the tower for an exhilarating view in all directions.