Tuesday, September 17, 2013

0210. USA - New London Harbor Lighthouse (US New England Coastal LH Series-2013)

The town of New London, Connecticut is a veritable paradise for Lighthouse lovers.  Locally known as the Pequot Avenue Lighthouse to distinguish it from the lighthouse just offshore, the present New London Harbor Lighthouse is Connecticut's oldest and tallest lighthouse.

The glory days early in the country's history the New London was the 3rd busiest whaling port.  The busy port attracted several immigrants, leading to the beach area near where the lighthouse stands being used as quarantine ground in the 1750's for recent arrivals to the New World infected with smallpox, a recurring problem at the time.

In 1760, a committee was pursued for the funding, construction and staffing of a new lighthouse for the harbor entrance at New London.  The following year, the lighthouse, a 64-foot stone tower with a wooden lantern at the top, was finished at the West side of the harbor entrance.  It was the 1st lighthouse in the harbor and only the 4th to be built in the American colonies.

But by 1800, the lighthouse had a crack extending 10 feet down from the lantern.  In addition, the light was so dim as to often be indistinguishable from the lights of the surrounding homes.  A replacement light, in 1800, a New Londoner by the name of Woodward began construction on the current octagonal, tapered 80-foot tower.

Sitting on a foundation of a mixture of granite, brownstone, and native stone, the tower was built of freestone, hammered smooth and laid in courses. The walls were nine inches thick and lined with brick inside. A wooden spiral staircase led up to the lantern room.

When the new station was opened in 1801, its flashing light was produced by oil lamps and an eclipser.  This apparatus was replaced in 1834 by eleven lamps with 14-inch reflectors.  Finally, a 4th order Fresnel lens, which remains in the lighthouse today, was installed in the late 1850's.

The New London Harbor Lighthouse is not the easiest lighthouse to visit, as the keeper’s house and surrounding ground is privately owned.  Limited views are available from the sidewalk on Pequot Avenue, but the best views are from the water. In October 2009, the New London Maritime Society became the new legal steward of the New London Harbor Lighthouse, after the Coast Guard excess-ed the tower through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.  A formal transfer ceremony was held at the lighthouse on October 13, 2010, wherein the deed for the lighthouse was presented to the New London Maritime Society. The tower and surrounding land, however, remains off-limits to the public except during special tours offered by the society.

USPS commemorated the New London Harbor Lighthouse (State of Connecticut) by the release of  a Forever stamp on 13-Jul-2013 in its US New England Coastal Lighthouse Stamp Series-2013 (6th Lighthouse Series).

Established in the year 1761, the New London Harbor Lighthouse:
  • Tower is OCTAGONAL brownstone
  • Tower is painted WHITE
  • Lantern painted BLACK
  • Height is 27 metres
  • Colour scheme of LIGHT is WHITE
  • Light character is 3 seconds ON and 3 seconds OFF

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