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Southwest Ledge Lighthouse

Southwest Ledge lighthouse

New Haven, Connecticut
Built in 1877



About a mile offshore from Lighthouse Point Park, in New Haven Harbor. You can get good views with binoculars or good photo lens.

Latitude: 41° 14' 04" N
Longitude: 72° 54' 44" W


Historic Stories:

Southwest Ledge is a dangerous rock formation about a mile offshore entering New Haven Harbor. New Haven became a major industrial center in the middle 1800’s establishing the need for South Ledge lighthouse to be established in 1877 to guide the increasing traffic from the dangerous ledge. The eight-sided architectural style with its cylindrical base was unique so that ice flows would not jam around the base area during the winter months.

Assistant Keeper Sidney Thompson was credited with saving four people in the 1880’s. From 1914 through 1924 the keepers during those years were credited with saving the lives of at least 20 people. early southwest ledge light
1915 Construction
Courtesy US Coast Guard


Assistant Keeper Looses His Mind at the Lighthouse

Keepers often complained of the constant wet conditions and cockroaches. The quarters were also cramped and eventually lead Assistant Keeper Nils Nilson to go berserk. One night, after a minor disagreement, he grabbed a fire ax and chased Keeper Jorgen Jonnensen around the tower where Jonnensen barricaded himself into a storage room. Another incident involved Nilson pinning Jonnensen against the wall threatening to cut his throat with a butcher knife. This time, Jonnensen was saved through the intervention of his brother-in-law who stayed at the lighthouse. Shortly after, in 1908, Nilson went ashore and took his own life.

distant view of Southwest ledge light a mile off shore


Places to Visit Nearby:

New Haven, home to Yale University with its cultural events, offers a variety of parks.

One of these, the Lighthouse Point Park, is where you can view the lighthouse from a distance, and enjoy a close up view of Five Mile Point Lighthouse. Five Mile Point light in New Haven

Five Mile Point Light

Southwest Ledge lighthouse is best viewed by private boat. There are no public boat tours available to the lighthouse. However, at the park you can walk out on a jetty to get a somewhat closer view of Southwest Ledge Light. You can also walk up to the tower of Five Mile Point Lighthouse. There is also an old fashioned carousel to explore.

Many attractions in New Haven have to do with connections to Yale University, helping New Haven to become the cultural center it is today. There are all kinds of performances and exhibits in the arts and theater, and many forms of music. You’ll also find the Yale Bowl for college football. There are museums of natural history and New Haven history, architecture from the nineteenth century, and many specialty shops.



Directions To Lighthouse Point Park:

Southwest West light built on rocky ledge



Contact Info:

Lighthouse Point Park Service
2 Lighthouse Point Road
New Haven, CT 06512
Phone:(203) 946-8019



My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions around the New Haven area you can explore, and tours.

Look inside!

book about lighthouses in southern New England



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