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Palmer Island

Butler Flats Lighthouse

butler flats light

New Bedford, Massachusetts
Built in 1898


Located in the New Bedford Channel at the entrance to New Bedford Harbor. Can be easily viewed from Fort Taber Park.

Latitude: 41° 36' 12" N
Longitude: 70° 54' 42" W


Historic Stories:

The construction of Butler Flats Light was an engineering feat since there was no rock edge to build the structure on, so a 35 foot iron cylinder filled with concrete had to be lowered into the muddy river bottom to support the 53-foot spark plug type lighthouse within the strong currents of the channel. The same engineer who built the foundation for the Statue of Liberty was called upon in creating the foundation for Bulter Flats Light.

Butler Flats light eventually replaced Clark’s Point Lighthouse, which was relocated to Fort Taber in 1869 (later renamed Fort Rodman).

Butler Flats Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in the US flying a lighted American flag 24 hours a day.

In 1997, inmates from the Bristol County House of Correction, in coordination with the County Sheriff’s and Mayor’s offices, were directly involved in rewiring the lighthouse’s electrical system, and construction on the lighthouse ceilings, walls, floors, and stairway.



Places to Visit Nearby:

In New Bedford you’ll find the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park with its cobblestone streets, specialty shops, and museums. New Bedford’s Whaling Museum displays maritime exhibits and historical artifacts from its hay day in the 19th century, as the nation’s whaling capital. Palmer Island light can be seen from the museum.

Fort Taber (or sometimes referred as Fort Rodham) has been restored as a recreational park to enjoy views of the harbor and lighthouse. A lighted boardwalk has also been added. Clark’s Point Lighthouse is located on top of the Fort. A lighted boardwalk has also been added for visitors to relax, or fish off shore. Events are scheduled during the summer months.

For those who enjoy hiking, take a good hike that spans over 9,000 feet on the largest hurricane barrier on the East Coast, protecting New Bedford Harbor. At the end you’ll find close views of Palmer Island Light, and on the other end you're very close to Clark's Point Lighthouse, where you can also view Butler Flast light from the wall. Be wary to travel during the daytime with companions.

Seastreak to Martha’s Vineyard from New Bedford passes by the lighthouse. The Cuttyhunk Ferry passes the lighthouse as it leaves the harbor.



Alternate Directions from US Route I-95 North:


Contact Info:
City of New Bedford

133 William Street
New Bedford, MA 02740



Local Boat Ferries

These ferries may pass close by the lighthouse coming to and from New Bedford's Harbor for easy photographs, but do not offer specific tours.

Cuttyhunk Ferry Company, Inc.
66B State Pier, South Bulkhead
New Bedford, MA 02740 (508) 992-0200


Ferry from New Bedford to Martha’s Vineyard
49 State Pier
New Bedford, MA 02740
(866) 683 3779


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