Digest>Jan/Feb 2010

Photo Caption:

Rhode Island’s Beavertail Lighthouse from a World War II era aerial photograph. At that time just behind the light, a military installation called Ft Burnside (now a State Park) was constructed with a disguised farmhouse concrete building called “Harbor Entrance Command Post” (HECP). This command post controlled all traffic into Narragansett Bay, the minefields and anti-submarine nets on each side of Beavertail Point and the underwater detection system in front of the light. The tower in the photo in front of the light housed a large 36 in diameter carbon arc searchlight to illuminate “enemy” shipping. The structure in the lower left corner is the original 1749 light stone and mortar foundation ruin. It was uncovered during the 1938 Hurricane. It had been covered over since 1856 when the present light tower was built. Prior to the hurricane, the station’s fog signal building sat on top of the stone ruin and was destroyed by the hurricane. At that time the fog signal building shown with the fog horns protruding from the structure was constructed. Shortly after this photo was taken, the military poured a concrete cap over the top of the ruin and mounted some optical range finding equipment on top of it and a ramp to wheel up a machine gun battery. The photo appears to show the temporary sandbagged gun emplacement. When the light was automated in the 1970’s, the automatic fog signal was relocated on top of the ruin and later moved off the ruin to its present position about 50 ft to the north. Just below the light tower base and across the road in the photo is a dug-in, sandbagged, rapid fire gun emplacement. It was built to suppress possible German high speed motor torpedo boats which may have been launched by disguised off shore freighters with the intent of entering Narragansett Bay to attack Navy vessels in Newport Harbor. (United States Coast Guard photo, Lighthouse Digest archives.)
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History Preserved at Beavertail Lighthouse
Back to the edition of: Jan/Feb 2010

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