Jamestown Historical Society

Conanicut Island Light Keeper’s Journal

Click on the images below to see them in our online catalog.

JHS recently received Elmer V. Newton’s Conanicut Island Light Keeper’s Journal, 1921-1933. Lighthouse keepers were required to keep a journal mostly of day to day life, when inspections were made, and what supplies received. Newton’s journal mostly records weather conditions at the Light. Elmer V. Newton, 1868-1947, was the second Keeper of Conanicut Light. Newton was appointed after the death of the first Keeper, Horace W. Arnold, 1839-1914. Arnold provided more details in his journal recording severe storms in 1911, the first in April and another in December of that year. Arnold wrote that on October 3, 1902 Torpedo Boat No. 1 went ashore at the station and on March 5, 1904 Schooner Henry A. Barrett ran aground near the station. Arnold noted the death of Ida Lewis, Keeper for 26 years of Lime Rock Lighthouse, and on April 14, 1912 the sinking of the Titanic.

Captain Horace W. Arnold’s obituary shows a photo of the veteran Light Keeper wearing his hat with emblem.

Conanicut Island Light also known as North Point Light, North Light, and Conanicut Light began service in 1886. Congress appropriated on July 7, 1884, $18,000 for a lighthouse on North Point. The lot was purchased in 1885 from the Conanicut Land Company for $1,000.00. When completed in 1886 the wooden building was a combination dwelling and tower. 

The arrival of electricity to North Point allowed for the establishment of an unattended light. In 1932, the Superintendent of Lighthouses gave approval to discontinue the present light and fog signal and establish an unwatched electric light on a steel tower to be constructed to the east of the old lighthouse.

The Lighthouse Service surveyed and subdivided the property. They retained the small plot on which the steel tower stood and in 1934 solicited bids for the sale of the Lighthouse and the rest of the land. The property has been a private residence since 1934 when purchased at auction for $2,870.

Conanicut Island Light discontinued service before 1983 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 25, 1988.

For more on Conanicut Island Light, click here.

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