Ten Pound Island Light is a historic lighthouse located at the eastern entrance to Gloucester Harbor in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
The development of Ten Pound Island Light began on May 15, 1820, when Congress appropriated $9,000 for the construction of lighthouses on Ten Pound Island in Gloucester and Baker’s Island in Salem. Ten Pound Island Light was completed the following year in 1821. This original lighthouse was 20 feet tall and made of stone. There was also a stone light keeper’s residence built next to the tower.
The original lighthouse quickly deteriorated due to poor materials and craftsmanship. Lighthouse inspector, I.W.P. Lewis analyzed the lighthouse in 1842 and found many leaks, cracks, rotting, non-functioning lamps, and more. The lighthouse continued in operation for several more decades, it even received a six-order Fresnel lens in 1856.
Ten Pound Island, the lighthouse, and the iconic town of Gloucester captured the attention of painter Winslow Homer. In the summer of 1880, Homer inquired about living on the island for the summer, and the lightkeeper allowed Homer to stay throughout the summer. During these months, Homer created approximately 50 paintings all focused on this beautiful New England town. Some of the paintings included Ten Pound Island Light. Today, Winslow is regarded by many people as being the greatest American painter of the nineteenth century.
A new tower was constructed on Ten Pound Island in 1881 and it currently stands on the island. This tower is 30 feet tall and built on cast iron with a wall of white-painted brick around it. A fish hatchery was developed on the island in 1889, but it was abandoned in 1954. A Coast Guard air station with one small scout plane was established on the island in 1925. Two amphibious vehicles were later added to the facility. In 1956, Ten Pound Light was decommissioned. The fifth-order Fresnel lens was removed and replaced with a contemporary light, which was later relocated to a skeleton tower. The Fresnel lens is now on display at Rockland, Maine’s Maine Lighthouse Museum.
The Lighthouse Preservation Society began work on restoring the lighthouse in the late 1980s. The cost was approximately $45,000, which was raised by the city and a grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission. On August 7, 1989, Lighthouse Bicentennial Day, Ten Pound Island Light was relit as an active aid to navigation in a ceremony complete with fireworks. In 1995, the oil house was restored.
The City of Gloucester owns the island and maintains walking paths to the lighthouse. The US Coast Guard owns and maintains Ten Pound Island Light as a Federal aid to navigation, and it is not open to the public. The island is accessible by private boat, but landing is difficult due to a lack of a landing facility. The light station can be seen from a boat or from a number of locations along the Gloucester waterfront. If you are not able to view the lighthouse by boat, there are several locations along the shore to see it. One of the best viewpoints is from nearby Stage Fort Park.
Ten Pound Island Lighthouse is one of 10 North Shore Massachusetts Lighthouses To Visit/Photograph. Looking for more great spots to explore in Massachusetts? Check out the GoXplr Massachusetts Map at goxplr.com/map/massachusetts
- Originally constructed: 1821
- Current tower constructed: 1881
- First lit: 1881 (current tower)
- Construction: Stone and cast iron
- Tower shape: Conical
- Height: 39 feet (12 m)
- Focal height: 57 feet (17 m)
- Markings: White with black lantern
- Characteristic: Red light flashing isophase every 6 seconds (Iso R 6s)
- Range: 5 nautical miles (9.3 km; 5.8 mi)
- Status: Active
- NRHP number: 88001179
- Address: Ten Pound Island
- Town: Gloucester
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: Lat 42.60181 Lng -70.66551
- Parking notes: The lighthouse can be best viewed by boat. From the mainland, it can be seen from Stage Fort Park in Gloucester. During the season, parking is available at $15 per vehicle on weekdays and $20 on weekends and holidays.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE