Located just 12 miles off the coastline of Rhode Island and Narragansett Bay, Block Island was settled by the Dutch in 1614. The shoals off the island were so dangerous to passing vessels that many early settlers made lucrative livings from scavenging shipwrecks that met their doom off the island.
After many shipwrecks and an increase in swarms of vacationers, the Block Island North Light was established in 1829 on the northern tip of the island. Its southern counterpart, The Southeast Lighthouse would follow in 1875 and be established 150 feet above sea level on 10 acres of land bordering Mohegan Bluffs.
The lighthouse's gothic architecture and strong presence was designed at the time to be a showpiece for the U.S. Lighthouse Bureau. It was such a popular vacation spot that even Ulysses S. Grant, who originally signed the appropriation to build the lighthouse, made the trip! The Southeast Block Island Lighthouse from the offset was designated a 'primary seacoast aid to navigation'. This allowed the lighthouse to be established with the most powerful fresnel lens available at the time -- a first order fresnel lens -- to aid the passing ships in the Atlantic Ocean.
The lighthouse was severely damaged by The Hurricane of 1938.
In 1990, the Southeast Lighthouse was deactivated by the Coast Guard and soon after the relentless erosion of the cliffs severely threatened the historic structure's actual existence. The lighthouse that was originally established 300 feet from the bluff, now stood less than 60 feet from the edge of Mohegan Bluffs.
To assure this landmark's preservation, The Block Island Southeast Lighthouse Foundation raise $2 million in funds to pay for the lighthouse to be relocated back from the threatening cliffs.
In 1993, The International Chimney Corporation was awarded the contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move the lighthouse for posterity. The International Chimney Corporation also were responsible for the relocation of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The complex move entailed relocating the 3 million pounds plus lighthouse over 360 feet and was completed on August 24, 1993.
In September of 1997, Block Island's Southeast Light was designated a National Historic Landmark.
There are current plans by the Block Island Southeast Lighthouse Foundation to completely restore the keeper's quarters and light tower at a cost of close to $2 million and turn it into a bed and breakfast by 2005.
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse stood watch over the entrance to San Diego Bay for 36 years.
At dusk on November 15, 1855 the light keeper climbed the winding stairs and lit the light for the first time. What seemed to be a good location 422 feet above sea level, however, had a serious flaw.
Fog and low clouds often obscured the light. On March 23, 1891 the light was extinguished and the keeper moved to a new lighthouse location closer to the water at the tip of the Point.
Today the Old Point Loma Light House still stands watch over San Diego, sentinel to a vanished past. The National Park Service has refurbished the interior to its historic 1880’s appearance -- a reminder of a bygone era.
Ranger-led talks, displays and brochures are available to explain the lighthouses interesting past.