Here at ULTRA, we have long been fascinated by lighthouses. They represent the nautical heritage of our home state of Rhode Island and of the New England area. In addition, we like to think that they represent ULTRA's dedication to helping our customers navigate the often confusing currents of environmental analysis. That is why we began choosing lighthouses as our cover subjects more than 10 years ago.
Here then is a list of the lights that have graced our covers. For those lights for which we have digital images, we have provided a link to a page showing the image used for the cover, plus some brief notes about the lighthouse. We hope to expand this section as we digitize some of the older cover photos.
Beavertail Light, Jamestown, RI(Catalog # 13, 1989)
The lighthouse built at Beavertail in 1749 was the third in the American colonies. The bill authorizing the lighthouse had been passed in the 1730s, but the war between the French and the English postponed the tower's construction.
The tower reportedly burned down in 1753 and was rebuilt. It was then burned by the British in 1779. Repairs authorized by President Washington were completed in 1790, and the lighthouse was ceded to the federal government in 1793. In 1817 Beavertail Light became the first American lighthouse to be lit by gas.
The experiment lasted one year. The Hurricane of 1938 damaged the lighthouse, and also exposed the foundation of the original 1749 tower, 100 feet from the existing tower. Today Beavertail Light remains an active aid to navigation and is maintained by the Coast Guard.
Brant Point Light, Nantucket, MA(Catalog # 21, 1997)
In 1746, the second lighthouse ever built in America was erected at Brant Point. The current light was built in 1901, and is the ninth lighthouse built at the site. At 26 feet, it is also the shortest light in New England.
Cape Elizabeth Light, Cape Elizabeth, ME(Catalog # 22, 1998)
Cape Elizabeth Light is the most powerful light in Maine, a flashing white, 4 million candlepower beam that can be seen 27 miles out to sea. When first built in 1828, two stone towers were erected at the site, approximately 300 yards apart.
These were replaced in 1874 by twin cast-iron towers, each 65 feet tall. The western tower was deactivated in 1924, but still stands.
Castle Hill Light, Newport, RI(Catalog # 15, 1991)
Castle Hill Light marks the eastern end of the entrance to Narragansett Bay. Built on the side of a rock ledge, the granite tower is only 34 ft. tall, and the light is only 42 ft. above sea level. It has a fifth-order Fresnel lens that flashes red.
Castle Hill was built in 1890, and is one of four active lights located in Newport. The others are Rose Island Light, Goat Island Light, and Ida Lewis (Lime Rock) Light.
Point Judith Light, Narragansett, RI(Catalog # 12, 1988)
Our first lighthouse cover subject was Point Judith Light. Built in 1857, the octagonal, granite tower stands on the west side of the entrance to Narragansett Bay. It is the third lighthouse to be erected on the site.
The two previous lights, a wooden tower built in 1810 and a stone tower built in 1816, were both destroyed in storms.
Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, ME(Catalog # 20, 1996)
First lighted in January, 1791, Portland Head is the oldest lighthouse in Maine. Although it has been altered several times over the years, the original tower still stands, and it continues its work as an active aid to navigation.
The site is one of the most picturesque of all lighthouses. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a frequent visitor, and even wrote a poem about it.
Race Rock Light, Fishers Island, NY(Catalog # 18, 1994)
In 1846, 45 people perished when the steamer Atlantic was shipwrecked in the area off Fishers Island known as "The Race". Even worse, the Atlantic was only one of hundreds of vessels that came to a bad end in the Race.
Finally, after seven years of extremely difficult construction, Race Rock Lighthouse was completed in 1878. Although technically part of New York, Race Rock Light sits only a couple of miles southeast of the entrance to New London harbor, much closer to Connecticut than to Long Island and the rest of New York. The lighthouse, with its flashing red beacon, can be easily seen from shore.
Sakonnet Light, Little Compton, RI(Catalog # 16, 1992)
Construction of the Sakonnet Lighthouse, Rhode Island's easternmost beacon, began in 1883. Heavy seas in the fall of 1883 caused the remainder of the construction to be put off until the spring, and the lighthouse was completed in October 1884.
After Hurricane Carol in 1954, the Coast Guard elected to decommission and abandon Sakonnet Point Light. Local residents convinced the Coast Guard to relight Sakonnet Point Light and on March 22, 1997, it was relighted after 43 years. The new .77 amp bulb produces a red flash every six seconds, visible for seven nautical miles.
West Quoddy Light, Lubec, ME(Catalog # 17, 1993)
The West Quoddy Head Light stands on the easternmost point of the United States mainland. The first rubblestone lighthouse was built in 1808 by the order of President Thomas Jefferson. The present 49-foot brick tower was built in 1858.
The light's famous red and white stripes appear to have been added not long after the present tower was built. Painting red stripes on lighthouses was common in Canada, where it helped them stand out against the snow. The lighthouse was automated in 1988 and remains an active aid to navigation.