American Lighthouse Foundation (Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse Chapter)
Contact Address Information:
P.O. Box 8232
This lighthouse is adjacent to an active Coast Guard station and the Fort Constitution State Historic Site. This was the scene of one of the first overt acts of the American Revolution, when local citizens raided Fort William and Mary and made off with gunpowder and other supplies. The lighthouse is now licensed by the Coast Guard to the American Lighthouse Foundation, and a chapter of the foundation, the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, cares for the lighthouse, oil house, and wooden walkway. The walkway was rebuilt in 2006.
Tower Height: 48
Height of Focal Plane: 52
Characteristic and Range: Fixed green, visible for 12 nautical miles.
Description of Tower: White, conical cast iron tower with black cast iron lantern.
This light is operational
1872 1.5 story keeper's house, oil house.
1771: wooden tower; 1804: 80-foot octagonal wooden tower, reduced to 55 feet in 1854.
Date Established: 1771
Date Present Tower Built: 1878
Date Automated: 1960
Optics: 1877: Fourth order Fresnel lens.
Fog Signal: Originally fog bell, now electronic horn with one blast every 10 seconds.
Current Use: Active aid to navigation.
Open To Public? Occasional open houses.
From Route 95 North or South: Take Exit 5 (Portsmouth Circle). Follow the signs for the Route 1 Bypass South (Hampton Beaches). Continue on Route 1 Bypass South. At the sixth traffic light (two miles from the traffic circle), turn left (the sign says "To Route 1A"). This is Elwyn Road. Follow for approximately 1.4 miles. Bear left to a stop sign at the end of Elwyn Road. Turn left and follow Route 1A for about .4 mile to the intersection with Route 1B. Turn right here (there is a sign before the turn saying Route 1B, New Castle). Follow Route 1B. You will cross a bridge and then pass the Wentworth-by-the-Sea Hotel. Continue on Route 1B. After about 2.2 miles from the turn onto Route 1B, you'll see signs for the Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor and Fort Constitution. Follow these signs to the right. (Actually, from this direction, you're going straight as Route 1B turns to the left). Follow to the parking area for Fort Constitution. Do not drive through the gate to the Coast Guard station. Walk through the gate to the station and follow the blue line to Fort Constitution. You can see the lighthouse from the fort. During open houses, you are allowed to walk to the lighthouse.
(From downtown Portsmouth, follow Marcy Street along the waterfront past Prescott Park and follow the signs for Route 1B, New Castle. The Coast Guard station and lighthouse are about 2.5 miles from Prescott Park.)
The lighthouse can also be seen from cruises leaving Portsmouth. Contact Portsmouth Harbor Cruises at (800) 776-0915, or the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company at (800) 441-4620. The Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse hold open houses and lighthouse cruises periodically during the summer; email FPHL@lighthouse.cc for information.
Mapquest URL: Click here to get a map to this lighthouse!
Keepers: John Cochran (1771-1774); Mesech Bell (1784-1786); Titus Salter (1786-1793); David Duncan (1793-1820); Allen Porter (1820-1839); Nathaniel Marston (1839-1841); Edward T. Yeaton (1841-1843); Joseph E. Robinson (1843-1846); John Kennard (1846-1849); William Vennard (1849-1853); Thomas Marston (1853-1858); Richard R. Locke (1858-1861); Elias Tarlton (1861-1866); John H. Campbell (1866-1874); Joshua Card (1874-1909); Leander White (1909-1915); Henry Cuskley (1915-1941); Charles U. Gardner (relief keeper, c, 1942-1943); Arnold White (1941-1946); Elson Small (1946-1948).