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Minots Ledge
Minots Ledge
Howell, Felicie
18 in. x 13 in.
Buy this Art Print at

Minots Light Cranberries Label
Minots Light Cranberries Label
10 in. x 8 in.
Buy this Art Print at

Minots Ledge Light

Cohasset Massachusetts

Minots Ledge Light

Light Location: Minots Ledge, just off Cohasset Massachusetts

  • A narrow, low outcropping of rock

First Built: 1850

  • Original Tower Information:
    • The original tower design was chosen by Stephen Pleasonton, the Fifth Auditor of Treasury.
    • It cost about $39,000
    • He chose a 75 foot tower built on 9 foot pilings sunk 5 feet into rock. The holes were a foot in diameter and five feet deep. The original design was a keeper's house on top of the pilings.
    • Top of the rock was only three and a half feet above the sea at low tide, allowing only three hours a day to work.
    • Was built over three years, between 1847 and 1850
    • Henry David Thoreau called it "the ovum of a sea monster floating on the waves." He said of the replacement, "The lighthouse rises out of the sea like a beautiful stone cannon, mouth upward, belching only friendly fires."
    • Tower was torn apart by a storm on April 16, 1851, the entire thing fell into the sea. The storm is known as the "Minots Light Storm of 1851".
    • Was replaced by a lightship between 1851 and 1860 until the new tower was lit. Initially it was replaced by the steam tug R.B. Forbes and later by Lightship N (the Old Brandy Wine or the Brandywine Shoal) and later by Lightship LV 7 (Minots Ledge Lightship).

The Original Minots Ledge Lighthouse

First Lit: January 1, 1850

Current Tower Construction & Facts:

  • Year Built: August 22, 1860 (started June 20, 1855)
    • It took five years to rebuild
    • Cost $330,000 and was one of the most expensive lighthouses ever built in the country.
    • Lit on November 15, 1860
  • Tower Height: 114 feet according to the National Park Service (97 feet according to other sources)
  • Focal Plane: 85 feet
  • Material: 1079 granite blocks on top of seven 2-ton dovetailed foundation stones. Copper Lantern
  • Shape: Conical
  • Original Optic:
    • Third order Fresnel Lens (1860)
    • Lens is now in a replica lantern onshore in Cohasset, MA.
  • Current Optic:
    • 300 mm MaxLumina ML300
    • Solar powered
    • Has a six-bulb changer to automatically change the bulb if it burns out
  • Characteristic: 1-4-3 flash
  • Electricity: Solar Powered
    • Converted in 1987/1988
    • The solar panel charges six 12-volt batteries.
  • Automated: 1947
  • Designed by: Joseph G. Totten
  • Features:
    • First 40 feet is granite with a hollow center used as a fresh water hold.
    • The entrance door is more than 40 feet off the ledge.
    • There are five floors above the water hold, they were used for storage and keeper's quarters.
  • Visibility: 5 miles

Fog Signal Facts:

  • There was a fog horn, but it was discontinued in 1947.
  • Another source indicates that there is a remote control fog horn operated by radio signal from Boston Light.
  • One blast every 10 seconds

Currently Owned By: United States Coast Guard

Currently Managed By: United States Coast Guard

Accessibility: Not open to the public, best viewed by boat.

Special Facts:

  • Also known as "The Lover's Lighthouse" and the "I Love You" Lighthouse.
  • The rocks on which it is located disappear at high tide.
  • National Register Status: Reference #87001489
  • Is the most "wave-swept" lighthouse.
  • Is an American Society for Civil Engineering landmark.
  • The ledge is named for George Minot, a merchant who lost a valuable ship there around 1750.
  • Was the first offshore lighthouse in the United States

Other Buildings:

  • Keepers Quarters (1858)
    • Duplex, located on Government Island
    • Owned and managed by the Town of Cohasset
    • Restored in 1992-1993 for $200,000
  • Engineering Office on Government Island
  • Oil Storage Building on Government Island
  • A granite memorial to John Antoine and Joseph Wilson on Government Island (2000)


  • Isaac Dunham - 1st keeper - 1849-1850
    • Quit after 9 months on October 7, 1850 because he believed the tower would fall down.
    • His pet kitten went crazy with fear in the lighthouse and jumped off the tower.
    • Assistant Isaac A. Dunham - 1850
  • John Bennett - 2nd keeper - 1850-1851
    • Was keeper when the first tower was destroyed, he was ashore at the time.
    • Assistant Keepers 1850-1851:
      • Joseph (John?) Antoine and Joseph Wilson died keeping the light going until the tower slid into the sea
      • One drowned and was washed ashore. The other made it to shore but died of exposure.
  • Joshua Wilder - 3rd keeper - Nov. 15, 1860 - 1861
    • First keeper in new tower
    • Assistant T.W. Ryder - 1860
    • Assistant A.W. Williams - 1860-1861
    • Assistant William S. Taylor - 1860-1861
  • James J. Tower - 1861-1874
    • Assistant W.H. Sylvester - 1861-1863
    • Assistant Thomas Bates II - 1861-1864
    • Assistant James D. Baxter - 1863
    • Assistant Israel Vinal - 1864-1865
    • Assistant Alden Simmons - 1865-1870
    • Assistant John A. Pratt - 1866-1868
    • Assistant Wallace Willcutt - 1873-1874?
    • Assistant Levi L. Creed - 1865-1874
  • Levi L. Creed - 1874-1881
    • Assistant Albert H. Burdick - 1870-1877
    • Assistant John G. Hayden - 1874-1877
    • Assistant Thomas J. Sheridan - 1876-1880
    • Assistant Amiel Studley - 1877-?
    • Assistant Joseph B. Vinal - 1877-1881
    • Assistant Joseph A. Noble - 1880-1881
    • Assistant Nathan Hendson? - 1881
    • Assistant Frank F. Martin - 1881
  • Frank F. Martin - 1881-1887
    • Assistant Daniel M. Ryan - 1881-1882
    • Assistant Frank W. Thomas - 1881-1883
    • Assistant Lester G. Willett - 1881
    • Assistant Joseph E. Frates - 1882-189?
    • Assistant Joseph Jason, Jr. - 1883
  • Milton Herbert Reamy - 1887-1915
    • Longest term as keeper
    • Replaced by his son
    • Assistant George L. Lyon - 1887-1889
    • Assistant Winfield L. Creed - 1892?-1894
    • Assistant George Holmes - 1892
    • Assistant James Kingsley - 1893-1894
    • Assistant John E. Morrill - 1894
    • Assistant Charles Grey Everett - 1894-1895, 1905-?
    • Assistant George Jamieson - 1894-1896
    • Assistant Roscoe Lopaus - 2nd Asst. 1896-1905
    • Assistant Levi B. Clark - 2nd Asst. 1905-1907, 1st Asst. 1907-?
    • Assistant Octavius Reamy - 2nd Asst. 1909-1910, 1st Asst. 1910-1915
    • Assistant Currier - 2nd Asst. 1910-?
    • Andrew Tullock - 2nd Asst. 1910-?
  • Octavius Reamy - 1915-1924
    • Assistant Per S. Tornberg - 1922-1924
  • Per S. Tornberg - 1924-1936
    • Assistant Pierre Albert Nadeau - 192?-1925
    • Assistant George H. Fitzpatrick - 1924-1927
    • Assistant Otis E. Walsh - 1930s
    • Assistant Anthony K. Sousa - 1930s
  • George H. Fitzpatrick - 1936-1940
  • Julian Hatch (Coast Guard) - 1946 - Mar. 1947
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Michael Pratt - 1946
  • George Miller - 1946
  • Keeper Roach - 1947
  • One keeper was driven to suicide after ice temporarily trapped him inside the lighthouse.

Ghost Stories & Mysterious Happenings

  • Some reports that a gallery door mysteriously opens and there is an insistant tapping in the tower walls. This mirrors a game that Assistant Keepers Antoine and Wilson played.
  • Ships used to report seeing the dripping wet ghost of John Antoine hanging from a rope outside the tower and speaking Portuguese.
  • The Quonahassit Native Americans believed that the ledge was over the home of an evil demon named Hobomock, who started up terrible storms. They appeased him by leaving offerings on the ledge at low tide.

Poems about the Lighthouse

"Minot's Beacon"

by Alexander C. Corkum, 1906

Out where the waves of the Ocean
Thunder and break in their wrath
Here on the outermost danger,
Near to the mariners' path,
Standing on treacherous footing,
Towering over the sea
Flash I my signal of warning
Of one -- four -- and three.

Wrapped in a mantle of darkness,
Lashed by the wind and the wave
Swaying beneath their encounters,
Often their furies I brave;
And by the tears of the tempest,
Dimmed tho' my radiance be,
Still I keep flashing my warnings
Of one -- four -- and three.

Mist often mingles with darkness,
Pall-like upon me they close,
Hiding my treacherous neighbors,
Whom I am here to expose;
Then with my voice I'm proclaiming
Dangers the eye cannot see,
While I keep flashing my warnings
Of one -- four -- and three.

Winds that have fiercely assailed me
Whisper their gentle regret,
Waves that beseiged me in anger
'Round me remorsefully fret,
Always impassive I greet them,
Duty is sacred to me;
So I keep flashing my warnings
Of one -- four -- and three.

Here thro' the varying seasons,
Gray weather-beaten I stand,
Guiding the course of the seaman,
Cautiously making the land:
All to all people who pass me,
Seeing the 'Land of the Free,'
Flashing a welcome and warning
Of one -- four -- and three.


  1. Comeau, Lisa. "LV 7 (Minots Ledge/Relief) Lightship" [Online] Available, February 28, 2005.

  2. DeWire, Elinor. "Minots Ledge Lighthouse" [Online] Available, February 28, 2005.

  3. National Park Service. "Inventory of Historic Light Stations--Massachusetts--Minots Ledge Light" [Online] Available, February 26, 2005.

  4. PBS. "Legendary Lighthouses: Great Lighthouses-North Atlantic" [Online] Available, February 28, 2005.

  5. Totton, Rick. "Minots Ledge Lighthouse" [Online] Available, February 28, 2005.

  6. United States Coast Guard Lightship Sailors Association, Inc. "Minots Ledge Station History" [Online] Available, February 28, 2005.

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