Duxbury Pier Lighthouse

Plymouth, Massachusetts
Duxbury Pier Lighthouse is a historic sparkplug lighthouse in Plymouth Harbor in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The lighthouse dates back to 1871.
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About This Location

The Duxbury Pier Lighthouse, affectionately known as “Bug Light,” is a charming and historic beacon located in Plymouth Harbor, Massachusetts. This unique lighthouse, with its distinctive caisson or “sparkplug” design, has played a vital role in guiding mariners and ensuring safe navigation in the area since its construction in 1871.

The Duxbury Pier Lighthouse is nestled in Plymouth Harbor, serving as a guiding light for vessels approaching the harbors of Plymouth, Kingston, and Duxbury. Its distinctive caisson design, resembling a “sparkplug,” sets it apart from other lighthouses, making it a beloved landmark and earning it the affectionate nickname “Bug Light.”

Standing at a height of 46 feet, this cast iron lighthouse features three levels, which were once used as living quarters and a watch room for the keepers. The lantern room crowning the lighthouse housed a fourth-order Fresnel lens when it was first lit on September 15, 1871.

To protect the structure from the relentless forces of the sea, around 100 tons of stones were strategically placed around its base in 1886. In 1900, a 700-US-gallon water cistern was added, further enhancing its functionality and resilience.

The lighthouse served as an essential aid to navigation until it was automated in 1964, marking the end of an era when keepers dedicated their lives to its maintenance. With automation came changes, including the replacement of the Fresnel lens with a modern optic. Unfortunately, over the next two decades, the light fell victim to vandalism, and seabirds made the interior their home.

However, the story of the Duxbury Pier Lighthouse took a positive turn in the 1980s. In 1983, the U.S. Coast Guard planned to replace the lighthouse with a fiberglass tower, estimating that renovating the existing structure would cost $250,000. Concerned local residents rallied together to form “Project Bug Light,” determined to preserve this iconic piece of maritime history.

Through dedicated efforts and community support, a five-year lease for the lighthouse was granted to the preservation committee. The Coast Guard initiated essential repairs in 1983, and the work was completed in 1985. Over the years, Project Bug Light raised funds through various means, including T-shirt and bumper sticker sales, fashion shows, baseball games, and even a painting raffle. With the money collected, they undertook extensive restoration work on the upper parts and interior, including rebuilding the roof and catwalk. Solar power replaced the old battery system, and the fog signal was converted to solar power as well.

In the late 1980s, vandals once again breached the lantern room, resulting in significant interior damage. Eventually, Project Bug Light dissolved as an organization, and the five-year lease expired. Nevertheless, the volunteers of Project Bug Light continued to maintain the lighthouse and raised over $80,000 to support its preservation.

Today, the Duxbury Pier Lighthouse stands proudly in Plymouth Harbor, a testament to the dedication and determination of the local community. Though not open to the public, the lighthouse remains an essential and operational aid to navigation, ensuring the safety of vessels in the area.

To catch a glimpse of this charming “Bug Light,” visitors can head to the northern tip of Plymouth Beach, where they can enjoy a distant view of the lighthouse, which is approximately 0.50 miles away. While Plymouth Beach is often bustling with activity during the summer months, it offers a more serene experience during the off-season. Visitors can also enjoy wonderful views of the lighthouse from boats.

The Duxbury Pier Lighthouse, or “Bug Light,” stands as a reminder of the rich maritime history of Plymouth Harbor, a symbol of perseverance, and a cherished piece of Massachusetts’ coastal heritage.

Lighthouse Specs

  • Year Constructed: 1871
  • First Lit: 1871
  • Construction: Cast iron
  • Tower Shape: Caisson lighthouse (also known as a sparkplug lighthouse)
  • Height: 46 feet
  • Focal Height: 35 feet
  • Markings: White tower on a red foundation
  • Characteristic: Flashing red twice every 5 seconds
  • Range: 6 nautical miles
  • Status: Active
  • NRHP Number: 14000287

Location

Address: Plymouth Harbor, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 41.987444, -70.648583
Parking GPS Coordinates: 41.987444, -70.648583
Parking Notes: The lighthouse is best seen up close, but a boat is required to get close to it. The best viewpoint from the mainland is from the northern tip of Plymouth Beach where the lighthouse is about 0.50 miles from. Plymouth Beach is often busy during the summer, but lowkey during the off-season.

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