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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rockport in Essex County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Straitsmouth Island

 
 
Straitsmouth Island Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 23, 2017
1. Straitsmouth Island Marker
Inscription.
Straitsmouth Island was first sighted in 1614 by Captain John Smith. He also spotted nearby Thacher and Milk Islands and named all three the Turks' Heads.

Lighting the Way
Built in 1834, the island's first lighthouse was 19 feet tall. Its construction was spurred by the increasing number of ships sailing to Pigeon Cove for cargoes of stone from Rockport's burgeoning granite industry. Marking the entrance to Rockport Harbor, the light also warned mariners of the Dry Salvages reef and Avery's Ledge.

Changing Ownership
The U.S. Lighthouse Service operated the beacon from 1834 until 1915, when the Service was absorbed by the newly formed U.S. Coast Guard. In 1941, the island facilities were declared surplus by the federal government and sold to a private party. Eventually, Straitsmouth was bought by famed naval architect William Francis Gibbs, who designed the World War II Liberty ships as well as the liner SS United States. Upon Gibb's death in 1967, his family donated the island to the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Straitsmouth Light was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 15, 1987.

The United States of America donated this property to the town of Rockport for preservation and public use through the National Historic Lighthouse
Marker detail: Straitsmouth Island image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 23, 2017
2. Marker detail: Straitsmouth Island
The majority of the 29-acre island is owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which maintains it as a wildlife sanctuary. In 2010, the town of Rockport acquired from the Coast Guard the lighthouse and the 1.8 acres it stands on at the southeastern tip of the island.
Preservation Act. This program is administered by the National Park Service.
 
Location. 42° 39.651′ N, 70° 36.849′ W. Marker is in Rockport, Massachusetts, in Essex County. Marker is on Bearskin Neck east of Tuna Wharf Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is located near the turnaround circle at the northeast end of Bearskin Neck, overlooking Rockport Harbor. Marker is at or near this postal address: 79 Bearskin Neck, Rockport MA 01966, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Old Stone Fort (a few steps from this marker); Cannon from the U.S.S. Constitution (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Town Wharves (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bear Skin Neck (approx. 0.2 miles away); Rockport World War I & II Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); Harvey Park (approx. ¼ mile away); First Congregational Church of Rockport Steeple Rehabilitation (approx. 0.3 miles away); The First Settlers of Sandy Bay (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Rockport.
 
Regarding Straitsmouth Island. National Register of Historic Places (1987)
 
Also see . . .
1. History of Straitsmouth Island Light, Rockport, Massachusetts.
When the English explorer Capt. John Smith visited the area around Cape Ann in 1614, he found an abundance of timber
Marker detail: Today's Lighthouse image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 23, 2017
3. Marker detail: Today's Lighthouse
Today's light and foghorn are solar powered and continue to maintained by the Coast Guard as official aids to navigation.
and a "silver stream" of cod and other fish. Smith's coat of arms depicted three Turks' heads on a shield, in commemoration of three consecutive jousting victories during a siege in Transylvania. As he traveled along Cape Ann's eastern shore, Smith encountered three prominent islands that he named the "Turks' Heads." These islands are now known as Thacher, Milk, and Straitsmouth. (Submitted on March 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse.
In the 1800s, the addition of Rockport’s growing granite trade to its already thriving fishing business conclusively proved that a lighthouse was necessary to guide ships to Pigeon Cove Pier, where the stone was loaded, and Straitsmouth Island was deemed the ideal location on Sandy Bay’s northeastern end. On June 30, 1834, $5,000 was appropriated, of which $4.091.29 was spent to construct the lighthouse, a nineteen-foot-tall brick tower, and an associated brick keeper’s dwelling. When Benjamin W. Andrews became the light’s first keeper in 1835, he was granted exemption from jury and military duty by an Act passed by the Massachusetts Commissioners on April 8, 1835 (Submitted on March 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse.
The relatively small lighthouse is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard but, the island itself is owned by the Massachusetts Audubon
Marker detail: 1851 Lighthouse image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 23, 2017
4. Marker detail: 1851 Lighthouse
In 1851, a 24-foot octagonal tower was built closer to the southeast end of the island. By 1857, a sixth-order Fresnel lens was installed. Its blinking white light was replaced in 1932 with a green light that flashed every 6 seconds.
Society as a bird and wildlife sanctuary. The light is easily seen from the tip of Bearskin Neck in downtown Rockport. The lighthouse signature is a Green light flashing every 6 seconds. The U.S. Coast Guard owns and operates the Straitsmouth Island Light Station and it is closed to the public. Straitsmouth Island Light is visible from the breakwater at the end of Bearskin Neck in Rockport. (Submitted on March 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Colonial EraMan-Made FeaturesParks & Recreational Areas
 
Marker detail: 1896 Lighthouse image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 23, 2017
5. Marker detail: 1896 Lighthouse
Still standing today, the third and final 37-foot-tall lighthouse was built in 1896. It included a 314-foot walkway supported by granite blocks.
Straitsmouth Island Marker (<i>wide view; looking east across Rockport Harbor</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 23, 2017
6. Straitsmouth Island Marker (wide view; looking east across Rockport Harbor)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 27, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 50 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on March 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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