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Cohasset in Norfolk County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Minot's Ledge Lighthouse

Built 1855–1860

 
 
Minotís Ledge Lighthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, May 1, 2011
1. Minotís Ledge Lighthouse Marker
Inscription.
On this site 3,514 tons of Quincy granite were hewn into 1,079 dovetailed blocks whose final weight totalled 2,367 tons.

On the two circular forms seen here, the cut stones were carefully assembled to assure perfect fit; then disassembled and transported to Minotís Ledge where they were erected to form the 114 foot Lighthouse which still stands.

Restored by the Cohasset Historical Society
1967

 
Erected 1967 by Cohasset Historical Society.
 
Location. 42° 14.325′ N, 70° 47.341′ W. Marker is in Cohasset, Massachusetts, in Norfolk County. Marker can be reached from Government Island Road 0.1 miles north of Border Street, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is on Government Island (now a peninsula). It is a few hundred yards from Cohasset center and can be reached by traveling east on Border Street. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn left. Marker is at or near this postal address: 92 Border Street, Cohasset MA 02025, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Antoine and Wilson Memorial (a few steps from this marker); Early Boundary Line (approx.
Circular Forms To Aid Assembly image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, May 1, 2011
2. Circular Forms To Aid Assembly
These two circular forms of paving material guided the careful fitting of massive granite stones before they were taken out to the ledge. The marker is at far left. In the background is a replica of the lamp house on Minotís Light itself.
1.1 miles away); Gannettís Corner (approx. 1.4 miles away); Cudworth House (approx. 3.2 miles away); Hull (approx. 3.5 miles away); Williams-Barker House (approx. 4 miles away); Old Scituate Lighthouse (approx. 4.4 miles away); The Italian Freighter Etrusco (approx. 4.4 miles away).
 
Regarding Minot's Ledge Lighthouse. The most storied lighthouse on the New England coast, the massive offshore tower was completed in 1860 to replace the first light at the same spot, which washed away in an 1851 storm (see the link, above, to the adjacent marker). As Edward Rowe Snow described the new stone structure, “The masonry was locked and dovetailed in such a way that the impact of each wave made the edifice stronger rather than weaker.”

Capt. Barton S. Alexander, United States Engineers, was superintendent for the project, using a design by Gen. Joseph G. Totten. Crews laid the first stones in July 1857, the lower half of the lighthouse being solid granite. Shortly after sunset on November 15, 1860, when Keeper Joshua Wilder officially lit the new Minotís Light for the first time, he was greeted by dozens of
Small Plaque on Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, May 1, 2011
3. Small Plaque on Back of Marker
bonfires prepared by residents along the nearby shore.

In its first three decades Minotís Light showed a fixed beacon, leaving the possibility that a mariner might mistake it for one of the other lighthouses near Boston Harbor, with disastrous consequences. So a new lantern was installed in 1894. It flashed its own distinctive pattern in a 30-second cycle: one flash, followed by a pause, then four flashes, another pause, and then three more flashes.

There was, of course, nothing inherently romantic about Minotís Light, which has always looked forbidding, weatherbeaten, even ugly. But coastal residents soon connected the pattern of flashes with the number of letters in the expression “I love you.” The tie-in was strengthened when Alena G. Emerson, a music teacher from Boston, composed a song with these lines in about 1922:

All through the night staunch Minotís light
Flashes its signal over the sea.
To sailors it speaks of rocks and shoals
That ominous One, Four, Three.

But lovers know well that those flashes tell
The old, old story forever new,
Over and over year after year,
They read them, “I love you.”


Many times each year, seawater splashes entirely over the top of the 114-foot granite tower as waves slam against it. The tower has vibrated and trembled many times but never suffered
Replica of Lamp House image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, May 1, 2011
4. Replica of Lamp House
any real damage. On one occasion the exterior ladder was broken off; on another, a pendulum clock stopped. And in the hurricane of November 1888, the keeper reported, “It leaked under the windows.”

[The above summary is based on Edward Rowe Snowís classic, The Story of Minotís Light (Halliday, 1940, 1955).]
 
Also see . . .
1. Minot's Ledge Light. Wikipedia entry (Submitted on May 1, 2011, by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts.) 

2. Minot's Ledge Light History. New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide (Submitted on May 1, 2011, by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts.) 
 
Categories. Notable Places
 
Postcard From About 1906 image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, April 28, 2011
5. Postcard From About 1906
Panorama of Government Island image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, May 1, 2011
6. Panorama of Government Island
The marker is at far right, and Minotís Light can be seen on the horizon, within the visible stretch of open Atlantic Ocean at left. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
Telephoto View of Minotís Light image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, May 1, 2011
7. Telephoto View of Minotís Light
The lighthouse is 2.6 miles away from the marker site.
Another Telephoto View image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, September 26, 2009
8. Another Telephoto View
The lighthouse is 2.0 miles from the beach at North Scituate.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. This page has been viewed 702 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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