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Plymouth Light Station (Gurnet Light)


Plymouth Light Station is located on Gurnet Point in Plymouth at the entrance to Duxbury Bay. Also known as Gurnet Light, the Plymouth Light Station was first established on a high bluff at the end of Gurnet Point in 1768. Plymouth served as one of the major ports of colonial America. Increased shipping traffic necessitated a navigational aid to guide mariners in and out of Plymouth Harbor and further promote trade. The light station is located inside the earthworks of Fort Andrew, which existed during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

The original structure resembled a house with a lantern room at each end of the roof. After a fire destroyed the first light station in 1801, a new pair of wooden towers were constructed by 1803. The towers had deteriorated to such an extent by the 1840s that it became necessary to build a third set of light towers. Completed in 1843, the new octagonal, pyramidal, wooden towers were 34 feet high and connected by an enclosed storage shed. This light is 102 feet above Mean High Water. Its white light is visible for 17 nautical miles and its red sector, which covers Mary Ann Rocks, is visible 15 nautical miles.

Because of the close proximity of the original towers, the twin lights often appeared as a single light at sea and confused mariners. In 1871, the northeast tower was torn down and the remaining tower upgraded from a Sixth Order Fresnel lens to one of the Fourth Order, a remedy for the problem.

It gradually lost its importance as Plymouth Harbor silted up and lost most of its traffic. When the Cape Cod Canal opened in 1914, there was a significant increase in vessel traffic past the light.

The Lighthouse Board discontinued the light in the northeast tower, which was subsequently demolished, ending 156 years of twin lights on the site. The Fourth Order lens is now on display at the Lifesaving Museum in Hull, Massachusetts. The light is the oldest wooden lighthouse in the United States.

The light is accessible only by passing through the town of Duxbury, which lies to the north. Still owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, it is managed by Project Gurnet and Bug Lights, Plymouth Light Station is an active aid to navigation.

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A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Plymouth Light Station (Gurnet Light)

The Gurnet Light is the oldest wooden lighthouse in the United States, and it remains active.

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