Sep 1, 2023
In any gift shop in New England, you’ll probably find lighthouses pictured on tea towels and tee shirts and in snow globes. Lighthouses are fondly thought of as community landmarks and icons.
Connecticut has fourteen active lighthouses, two of which are maintained as private aids to navigation; six are standing but inactive. Some are located on dry land but a significant number are located in the waters of the Long Island Sound. Some are now private homes, but many can be enjoyed by the public including several that are periodically opened to the public by some of the state’s history museums. As early as the 1880’s, the federal government encouraged lighthouse keepers to open the lighthouses to visitors and tourists.
The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 provides an opportunity for the preservation of federally-owned historic light stations. The NHLPA program is a partnership among the United States Coast Guard; National Park Service, Dept. of the Interior; the General Services Administration and new stewards such as the New London Maritime Society and the Norwalk Seaport Association.
In this episode, Executive Producer Mary Donohue interviews guests Susan Tamulevich, Executive Director of the New London Maritime Society since 2008, during which time the NLMS became the steward of three area lighthouses, and Jordan Jackson, a Grating the Nutmeg listener and lighthouse fan who shares her first-hand account of visiting the Sheffield Island Lighthouse in Norwalk Harbor administered by the Norwalk Seaport Association.
There are many ways to visit Connecticut’s lighthouses. In the summer, the New London Maritime Society takes visitors by boat to see both the interior and exterior of its two lighthouses located in the Long Island Sound. The Norwalk Seaport Association also schedules summer boat trips out to Sheffield Island. The Cross Sound Ferry from New London has a cruise that includes sailing by eight lighthouses available until October 9th. Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven is open until November 1st-a perfect place for a close look at an early lighthouse, a walk on the beach or a sandwich.
For more information, visit these websites:
New London photos courtesy of New London Maritime Society and Sheffield Island Lighthouse photos courtesy of Jordan Jackson.
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