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Plymouth (Gurnet) Lighthouse

Plymouth (Gurnet) lighthouse

Plymouth, Massachusetts
Built in 1768


On the end of the Gurnet Peninsula in Plymouth Harbor. Public access very limited.

Latitude: 42° 00' 13" N
Longitude: 70° 36' 02" W


Historic Stories:

The beacon was originally constructed in 1768, on property owned by John and Hannah Thomas, where two lanterns were placed on opposite ends of the roof.

It was the first station built with more than one light in the nation.

early Plymouth Twin lights

Plymouth Twin Lights
1768 Construction
Courtesy US Coast Guard

John Thomas was made its first keeper.

During the Revolution, a fort was built on the “Gurnet” near the lighthouse.

When a battle ensued between the Colonials at the fort and British Frigate the Niger, Plymouth Light was hit with a cannonball and later rebuilt.

Later that year, the first Keeper, John Thomas, was called to serve in the Revolutionary War, leaving his wife Hannah to tend the lighthouse. Thomas rose in the ranks to become Major General, but died in Quebec, Canada, while leading the Colonial army, and thus Hannah became the first woman Keeper in the nation to take over the duties at the light.

In 1778, the ship General Arnold was caught in a fierce winter blizzard and ran aground near the light. Seventy-two crew members died from exposure to the freezing winds and water before the rest of the crew could be rescued.

The lighthouse burned down in 1801 and the government then rebuilt it as twin towers.

In 1924 the Bureau of Lighthouses discontinued one of the twin lights to help mariners with navigation in the area. The remaining light still stands.

Plymouth Light was moved back about 140 feet in 1997 just in time before it would have toppled over the nearly 50-foot cliffs into the water from much erosion over the years.

In 1999, the Coast Guard turned Gurnet Light over to Project Gurnet and Bug Lights, Inc.

It is the oldest freestanding, operating, wooden lighthouse today in the United States.


Here is a great professional video done locally by Plymouth Area Community Television (PACTV) discussing about Plymouth Lighthouse.



Places to Visit Nearby:

Plymouth is New England’s oldest and most historic town dating back to when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. Visitors will find plenty of historic narrated tours like the Plimoth Patuxet Museum, or even ghost tours, and you can use the trolley for a different touring experience. There are many fine beaches, specialty shops, and all kinds of recreational activities to enjoy here.

Visitors come to see the famous Plymouth Rock that is near the location where the orginal Pilgrims landed in 1620. location of plymouth rock by the harbor

As one of the most famous towns in America, Plymouth has many attractions like its museums for visitors to learn about America's beginnings, and you can walk up to the National Monument to the Forefathers, which is the largest solid granite monument in the US.

A new replica of the Mayflower, named as the Mayflower II, totally reconstructed, was completed in 2020, and is available for vistors to explore in Plymouth Harbor.

replica of the Mayflower ship The new replca has undergone a complete makeover. Image shown is before the reconstruction effort.

For those who enjoy tasting at wineries, you'll find in the Plymouth area, the 1620 Winery, and the Plymouth Bay Winery.

Capt. John Boats has tours in Plymouth Harbor on a Mississippi style paddle wheeler, the Pilgrim Belle, and provides ferry service to Provincetown and back to enjoy the many galleries, museums, and nightlife Provincetown has to offer. They also have whale watching cruises.


Contact Info:
Project Gurnet and Bug Lights, Inc.
P.O. Box 2167
Duxbury, MA 02331


Stay Overnight and Annual Lighthouse Tour

The lighthouse property is owned by the Project Gurnet and Bug Lights organization, and the Coast Guard, and visitors are not allowed to drive to the lighthouse as it is private property. For those who wish to become members and attend the annual meeting, tours are sometimes provided of the lighthouse starting in 2022.

The organization will be providing overnight accommodations in the renovated keeper's building, with capacity of sleeping up to 14 visitors, with its four bedrooms, including two bunk rooms, and two baths, during the summer months, starting in 2022.


My new book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, published by Schiffer Publishing, provides lots of special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of additional indoor and outdoor coastal attractions and tours in the area, with contact info to plan your trip. I'll be happy to sign it for you here, or you'll find it in any fine bookstore.


Look inside!

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England





New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues & Other Tales

This image-rich book contains over 50 stories of famous shipwrecks and rescues around New England lighthouses, and also tales of hauntings, including a visit by the first female lighthouse keeper of Plymouth Light, Hannah Thomas.

You'll find this book and my lighthouse tourism books from the publisher Schiffer Books, or in many fine bookstores like Barnes and Noble.


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