By Yankee Magazine
Apr 05 2018
Rose Island Lighthouse | Newport, Rhode Island
For “The End of the Line” (season 2, episode 1), Weekends with Yankeetraveled to Rose Island in Newport, Rhode Island, to tour a lovingly restored lighthouse that’s been keeping watch over Narragansett Bay since 1870. Here,Yankee digital editor Aimee Tucker shares a closer look.
History of Rose Island Lighthouse
Located a mile offshore, Rose Island sits in the middle of the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. As shipping traffic in the Newport area increased during the 19th century, Congress appropriated funds for a lighthouse, which was completed on the island’s southwest corner in 1870. When the Newport Bridge opened a century later, in 1969, the lighthouse fell out of use and into disrepair. Fearing its demolition, a group of volunteers formed the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation and rallied to save it. In 1984 they successfully restored it to its 1912 appearance, while also installing environmentally conscious methods of electricity, water, sewer, and heat. On August 7, 1993, the beacon was relit, and the light could once again provide aid in navigation.
Things to Do on Rose Island
Spending a night or a vacation week in one of Rose Island’s guest rooms (there’s an apartment and a handful of single rooms available for rent in the summer) is the best way to make the most of a visit to the island, but day-trippers will still find plenty to admire and enjoy. Tour the historic lighthouse and Fort Hamilton barracks (guides are on hand during the summer months); stroll the walking paths after August 15, when the protection for nesting birds is lifted; beach-comb; fish off the rocks; enjoy a picnic lunch; or read a book in one of the island’s many ocean-facing Adirondack chairs. Bird-watchers, take note: Egrets, snowy egrets, and glossy ibis, plus many species of gulls and geese, all call Rose Island home.
Getting to Rose Island
Rose Island and the lighthouse museum are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $5 per person. Note: Parts of the island are restricted from March 1 to August 14 because of nesting birds. The best way to travel is via the Jamestown-Newport Ferry, unless you have your own boat, which you can tie up at the dock (or, for smaller craft, land on the beach).
Planning a longer visit to Newport, Rhode Island? Check out our Favorite Things to Do in Newport and our Guide to the Newport Mansions.