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Name: Penfield Reef Light   Map it!

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Nearest Town or City:
Fairfield, Connecticut, United States

Location: Entrance to Black Rock Harbor, Long Island Sound.

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Photo: Jeremy D'Entremont
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Managing Organization:
U.S. Coast Guard

Penfield Reef is considered one of the most dangerous areas on Long Island Sound; it was a peninsula a few centuries ago. The foundation of Penfield Reef Light was designed by F. Hopkinson Smith, who designed Race Rock Light. In 1969 the Coast Guard planned to tear down the lighthouse but local citizens complaints saved the structure. In 2007, the lighthouse has been made available to a suitable new steward under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. In 2008 ownership was awarded to Beacon Preservation, however an agreement could not be reached on bottoms lands and submerged land, and in 2011, the lighthouse was again up for auction, but there were no takers. In 2014, the Coast Guard said it would make extensive repairs to the lighthouse from damage incurred by Hurricane Sandy.

Tower Height: 35

Height of Focal Plane: 51

Characteristic and Range: Flashing red every 6 seconds.

Description of Tower: Octagonal wood and granite tower on granite keeper's dwelling.

This light is operational

Date Established: 1874 (1/16/1874)

Date Present Tower Built: 1874

Date Automated: 1971

Optics: 1874: Fourth order Fresnel lens. Now VRB-25.

Fog Signal: 1874: Fog bell with striking machinery; 1892: Daboll trumpet; 1924: Second class reed horn; now automated electric horn with one blast every 15 seconds.

Current Use: Active aid to navigation.

Open To Public? No.

The lighthouse can be seen fairly distantly from Fairfield Beach. From I-95 take exit 22 to Round Hill Road and turn right. Follow Round Hill Road across US 1 (Boston Post Road) into Beach Road. Turn right at Fairfield Beach Road. Follow the road south through a zig-zag intersection. A short distance from the intersection on the left is a narrow lane, across the street from College Place. Parking is not allowed on Fairfield Beach Road near the lane. Park on Reef Road or another side street. The lane to the beach is marked with "Lighthouse Pt." and "Penfield Reef Right of Way" signs. Walk down the lane to the beach. The lighthouse can be seen about 1.3 miles off to the southwest. The lighthouse can also be seen distantly from Seaside Park and Fayerweather Island in Bridgeport. It can also be seen from sightseeing cruises leaving Captain's Cove in Bridgeport; call 203-335-1433.

Mapquest URL: Click here to get a map to this lighthouse!

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Keepers: George Tomlinson (1874-1876); Sidney B. Thompson (assistant 1874); Charles Nichols (assistant 1874-1875); Edward Burroughs (1875-1876); Augustus Eddy (assistant 1876, head keeper 1876-1880); George H. Lord (assistant 1876); Edward Matthewson (assistant 1876-1877); Charles Sommers (assistant 1877-1878); David Tuttle (assistant 1878-1879); Chauncy D. Norton (assistant 1879-1880); William Jones (1880-1882); Pauline Jones (assistant 1880-1882); Neil Martin (1882-1891); Jane Martin (assistant 1883-1886?); Charles Grantham (assistant 1886); John Daniel Luding (assistant 1886-1887); Charles Wells (assistant 1887); F. B. Couch (assistant 1887); William R. Holley (assistant 1887); Nelson B. Allen (assistant 1888); George W. Beckwith (assistant 1888-1890); James A. Hobson (assistant 1890-1899); William H. Haynes (1891-1908); Elmer Vincent Newton (assistant 1906-1908, head keeper 1908-?); James Boyce (assistant 1903-1905); Arthur Eddy (assistant 1905); Joseph Trombley (assistant 1905); John T. Dixon (assistant 1899-1900); Joseph D. Meade (assistant 1900-1901); George A. Porter (assistant 1901-1903); James Boyce (assistant 1903-?); Joseph D. Burke (assistant 1908); Sidney Williams (assistant 1908-1909); Lawrence Farmington (?) (assistant 1909-1910); Jerome McDougall (assistant 1910); Ernest Hatcher (?) (assistant 1910); A. B. Miller (assistant 1910-1911); Albert J. Brown (assistant 1911); Jesse Orton (assistant 1911-1912); W. H. Oliver (assistant 1912-?); Frederick Jordan (?-1916); Rudolph Iten (1916-c. 1926); Arthur Bender (1st assistant c. 1920s); Walter Harper (2nd assistant c. 1920s); George Petzolt (c. 1935-1941); William Hardwick (assistant? 1932-1941); Patrick R. Tomlinson (Coast Guard, 1968-1969); Clark Ellison (Coast Guard officer in charge, c. 1969-1971).


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