Race Rock Light

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Race Rock Light
Race Rock light
Race Rock Light is located in New York
Race Rock Light
Location Entrance to Long Island sound
Coordinates 41°14′36.6″N 72°2′49.2″W / 41.243500°N 72.047000°W / 41.243500; -72.047000Coordinates: 41°14′36.6″N 72°2′49.2″W / 41.243500°N 72.047000°W / 41.243500; -72.047000
Year first constructed 1878
Year first lit 1879
Automated 1978
Deactivated Active
Foundation Granite and concrete caisson and pier.
Construction Granite
Tower shape Square/octagonal
Markings / pattern Natural color with white lantern
Height 45 feet (14 m)
Focal height 67 feet (20 m)
Original lens Forth order Fresnel lens
Range 16 nautical miles (30 km; 18 mi)
Characteristic Flashing Red 10s
Fog signal Fog Horn points southeast. HORN: 2 every 30s
Admiralty number J0686
ARLHS number USA-681
USCG number

1-19815 [1] [2] [3]

Race Rock Light Station
Nearest city Fishers Island, New York
Area less than one acre
Architect Francis Hopkinson Smith
Architectural style Gothic Revival
MPS Light Stations of the United States MPS
NRHP reference #


Added to NRHP April 29, 2005
Heritage place listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata

Race Rock Light is a lighthouse on Race Rock Reef, a dangerous set of rocks on Long Island Sound southwest of Fishers Island, New York and the site of many shipwrecks. It is currently owned and maintained by the New London Maritime Society as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program.[5]

Race Rock Light was built 1871–78 and designed by Francis Hopkinson Smith (1838–1915). It is an excellent example of 19th-century engineering and design. The massive masonry foundations on the reef took seven years to complete, but the stone structure, the keeper's quarters, and the tower were built in only nine months once the foundation was secure. The lighthouse has a fourth-order Fresnel lens in a tower standing 67 feet (20 m) above the waterline. The United States Coast Guard automated the light in 1978.[2]

The lighthouse is believed by some to be haunted. It was featured on an episode of Ghost Hunters[6][7] and seen in the show's opening credits.


Race Rock Lighthouse stands in Long Island Sound, 8 miles (13 km) from New London, Connecticut, at the mouth of the Race where the waters of the Sound rush both ways with great velocity and force. By 1837, eight vessels had been lost in 8 years on Race Point reef.

In 1838, Congress appropriated $3,000 for a lighthouse at Race Rock but the money was never expended. In 1852, the Lighthouse Board reported: "Various efforts have been made, and numerous appropriations expended, in endeavoring to place an efficient and permanent mark on this point. Buoys cannot be kept on it, and spindles have hitherto only remained until the breaking up of the ice in the spring."

Construction of the riprap foundation began in April 1871. In all, 10,000 tons of granite were used in the foundation. The Board reported in 1872 that the building costs were so high that "no more than the landing and the enrockment of the foundation, and two courses of the pier" could be paid for. Congress appropriated a further $75,000 in 1873, and the lighthouse was completed at a total cost of $278,716.

The ledge on which the lighthouse is built is under water and ¾ mile from Race Point Reef. It was made approximately level with small broken stone and riprap. Upon this was placed a circular-stepped mass of concrete, 9 feet (2.7 m) thick, built in four concentric layers. To form the layers of concrete, cylindrical bands of half-inch iron were used. The upper surface of the concrete is 8 inches (200 mm) above mean low water and carries a conical pier that is 30 feet (9.1 m) high, 57 feet (17 m) in diameter at the base, and crowned by a projecting coping 55 feet (17 m) in diameter. The pier is made of heavy masonry backed with concrete and contains cisterns and cellars.

The pier is surmounted by a 1½ story granite dwelling, and the granite light tower ascends from its front. The whole structure is surrounded and protected by riprap. The tower is square at the base and octagonal at the top; it carries a fourth-order alternating electric light, standing 67 feet (20 m) above sea level and 45 feet (14 m) above land, and visible 14 nautical miles (26 km; 16 mi) at sea.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 as Race Rock Light Station.[4] In June 2011, the General Services Administration made the Race Rock Light available at no cost to public organizations willing to preserve them [8][9] as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program. The New London Maritime society took ownership of Race Rock and two other lighthouses that mark the approach to New London, Connecticut.[5]