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Rose Island Lighthouse

rose island light

Newport, Rhode Island
Built in 1870


Newport Harbor on Rose Island, about a mile offshore. Daily trips to the lighthouse are offered during the summer months, and opportunities to stay overnight are available.

Latitude: 41° 29' 44" N
Longitude: 71° 20' 34" W


Historic Stories:

rose island light
Image courtesy of
US Coast Guard

During the Revolutionary War, Rose Island was used use by both the British and the Colonists to defend Newport.

In 1894, the steamer Plymouth ran aground on Rose Island. Luckily all 700 passengers on board were offloaded with no injuries, but the ship remained stranded on the island for several weeks.

At Rose Island, the keepers grew crops and kept farm animals, which sometimes wandered from the lighthouse grounds into the military compound, causing some friction between the two posts.

On August 7, 1958, two tankers collided in heavy fog near Fort Adams and burst into flames, killing 18 men. One of the ships, the Graham, floated into Newport Harbor with the high tide ablaze in flames, passing within 200 yards of the Rose Island Light, thus forcing the keepers to flee the station. Luckily, the tide and wind then turned way from the shore and took the ship away from the lighthouse.

Charles Curtis became keeper in 1887, and his 31-year stay would be the longest in Rose Island's history.

With the building of the Newport Bridge in 1971, the lighthouse was closed and left to deteriorate over the years. The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation was formed in 1984, as Newport acquired the lighthouse, to restore and maintain the lighthouse. After years of consistent restoration, Rose Island Lighthouse was relit in 1993

The current lighthouse serves as a living museum for tourists who would like to stay over and perform some of the lighthouse duties as the previous Keepers did. The "guest keeper" program was established to help pay for the maintenance of the lighthouse.



Places to Visit Nearby:

The lighthouse and grounds are open daily during the summer months, with transportation to the island available aboard the Jamestown-Newport Ferry, which also makes stops at Jamestown, Newport, and Fort Adams.

Guests can also spend the night in one of two rooms located on the first floor of the lighthouse, or remain an entire week in the upper floor as keepers. The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation provides information on day trips or overnight stays.

Newport is Rhode Island’s gateway for tourists with concerts and events. Newport plays host to a number of festivals during the summer months, including the Newport Jazz Festival, Newport special waterfront events like the Great Chowder Cook Off, the Newport Folk Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, and the Newport International Boat Show.

Visitors can also choose from the many tours offered of Newport's elegant elaborate mansions of the rich and famous that shaped America’s 19th and 20th centuries, many of these are along Bellview Ave. There are also tours of the Newport Vineyards for wine tasting. Belcourt Castle offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and enjoy the atmosphere of the Gilded Age.

The Cliff Walk is 3.5 miles along an elevated path, where you'll get the chance to see the many mansions that define Newport along with picturesque views of the harbor. It begins at First Beach, or Easton's Beach, and finishes at the private Bailey's Beach. Easton's Beach, Newport's largest public beach, located on Memorial Boulevard at the start of the Cliff Walk, is a 3/4 mile long surf beach with a board walk and amusements. Newport offers plenty of beaches for visitors.

Other walks in Newport include the Newport Harbor Walk and the Ten Mile Ocean Drive with many of those miles you have public access to the shoreline, starting at the Breakers mansion. For a family treat in nearby Portsmouth RI, visit the Green Animals Topiary Garden estate where 21 of the 80 topiary trees in the gardens are sculpted in the likeness of various animals.

Museums in Newport include the Naval War College Museum and the National Museum of American Illustration.



Contact Info:

Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation
P.O. Box 1419
Newport, RI 02840-0997
Phone: (401) 847-4242


Local Boat Tours

Boat cruises mentioned below offer many types of cruises. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises, some will pass by specific lighthouses as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, ferrying passengers, whale watching, fishing tours and other types of excursions. Contact info is provided to help you plan your special trips to New England’s shorelines. Enjoy!


Jamestown-Newport Ferry
Operates daily during the tourist season between Newport, Fort Adams, Rose Island, and Jamestown. Visitors and can be dropped off and picked up by the ferry. They offer daily direct service to Rose Island Lighthouse during the summer months. They also offer 2-hour narrated lighthouse tours around Newport Harbor on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer months, departing from Jamestown, RI.
Lighthouses include: Goat Island, Lime Rock, Castle Hill. Beavertail, and Rose Island.

One Ferry Wharf
Jamestown, RI 02835
Phone: (401) 423-9900 Boat: (401) 864-2985



Rhode Island Bay Cruises
Offers narrated cruises past 10 Rhode Island lighthouses along 30 miles of Narragansett Bay on its fast ferry, along with a Newport Harbor Tour. Sunset Lighthouse cruises are offered on the weekends.

347 Roger Williams Way
North Kingstown, RI 02852
(401) 295-4040


Save the Bay Tours
Organization for lighthouse and coastal preservation provides Ultimate Lighthouse Tour, Northern Bay Lighthouse Tour, and a Southern Bay Lighthouse Tour. On their Ultimate Lighthouse tour and Southern Bay tour, both provide time for visitors to have their lunch and explore the lighthouse tower.

100 Save the Bay Drive, Providence, RI 02905
(401) 272-3540 or 272-3540, x133.
Contact Jennifer Kelly at


Snappa Charters
Offers specific lighthouse tours around Narragansett Bay and to Block Island in addition to other adventure tours.

(401) 782-4040
22 Colvintown Rd.
Coventry, RI 02816
Home (401) 821-7373
Boat/Cell (401) 487-9044


Classic Cruises of Newport
Newport Harbor excursions aboard a newly restored Elco Motor Yacht, built during prohibition in 1929, or go sailing on the 72-foot Schooner Madeleine. Both offer views by the Newport lighthouses.

Dockside/Reservations: (401) 847-0298



Sakonnet Charters
Special sailing lighthouse charter trips to Newport for a day. Overnight trips to Block Island, Cape Cod, Martha's Vinyeard and Nantucket, along with fishing excursions.

RI-77 Sakonnet Point Rd
Little Compton


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 to explore, and tours. You'll find detailed stories about rescues from Ida Lewis, the local heroine, and plenty of other local stories. There are over 360 images to enjoy as well.

Look inside!


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