Newburyport Harbor Front Range Lighthouse

Newburyport, Massachusetts
Newburyport Harbor Front Range Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse on the shores of the Merrimack River in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
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About This Location

The Newburyport Harbor Front Range Lighthouse, established in 1873, played a vital role in guiding vessels through the Merrimack River to reach Newburyport Harbor in Massachusetts. This navigational aid was necessary due to the treacherous waters and underwater obstacles, such as Goose Rocks, that posed a danger to mariners. Range lights, also known as leading lights, are a pair of beacons designed to assist ships in finding a safe channel. The front range light is typically a lower light, while the rear range light is higher and located farther away. Mariners align both lights one above the other to ensure they are on the correct course.

Originally, the front range light tower was situated on the land end of Bayley’s Wharf. In the 1950s, the tower underwent modifications when the original cast iron and glass lantern was replaced by a 20-foot wooden tower covered in wood shingles. The lighthouse’s role was crucial in assisting vessels to navigate the Merrimack River safely, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries when Newburyport Harbor was a bustling center for shipbuilding and maritime trade.

The Newburyport Harbor Front Range Light, constructed as a cylindrical cast iron tower, stands at a height of 14 feet with a focal height of 25 feet. Its distinctive white tower once featured a fixed red light, serving as a critical navigational aid for mariners. However, the specific range or distance of visibility for this light is not documented.

In recognition of its historical significance, the Newburyport Harbor Front Range Light was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 5, 1987, under reference number 87001486. Although the lighthouse is no longer active, it continues to stand as a historical landmark.

Ownership and maintenance of the Newburyport Harbor Front Range Light are not well-documented in the provided information. However, it is worth noting that the lighthouse currently stands on the grounds of the Merrimack River Coast Guard Station, which is no longer in service but serves as a daymark for mariners arriving in the area.

As for visiting the lighthouse today, it is not mentioned whether the public has regular access to the tower. The provided information primarily focuses on the lighthouse’s historical background and its role as a navigational aid. It is advisable for interested individuals to check with local authorities or historical organizations for the latest information regarding public access and tours of the Newburyport Harbor Front Range Lighthouse. Fortunately, the lighthouse can easily viewed from outside the fenced property lines.

Lighthouse Specs

  • Year Constructed: 1873
  • First Lit: 1873
  • Construction: Cast iron
  • Tower Shape: Cylindrical
  • Height: 14 feet
  • Focal Height: 25 feet
  • Markings: White tower
  • Characteristic: Fixed red light
  • Range: N/A
  • Status: Deactivated
  • NRHP Number: 87001486


Address: Water Street, Newburyport, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.811528, -70.864861
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.811528, -70.864861
Parking Notes: Parking is available right along Water Street near the lighthouse.

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