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Clarks Point Light
Clark's Point Light.jpg
the 1818 tower
Coordinates 41°35′35.44″N 70°54′4.86″W / 41.5931778°N 70.9013500°W / 41.5931778; -70.9013500Coordinates: 41°35′35.44″N 70°54′4.86″W / 41.5931778°N 70.9013500°W / 41.5931778; -70.9013500
Year first constructed 1797
Year first lit 1869 (current tower)
Automated 2001
Deactivated 1898-2001
Foundation Stone
Construction Stone and wood
Tower shape Short cylindrical tower on stone and wood rectangular building on granite fort
Markings / pattern White with black lantern
Focal height 68 feet (21 m)
Current lens 9.8 inches (250 mm)
Range 9 nautical miles (17 km; 10 mi)
Characteristic Fixed White
Fog signal none
ARLHS number USA-174
USCG number 1-16795

The Clarks Point Light is located in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Originally constructed as a wooden tower, it was replaced with a stone tower in 1804. This in turn was replaced by a structure on the parapets of Fort Rodman which was deactivated in 1898. After restoration in the early 1970s, it was relit again in 2001 by the city as a private aid.

History

The first light at this location was erected in 1797 by a group of local merchants, New Bedford at the time being a center of the whaling industry. This tower, constructed of wood, lasted only a year before it was destroyed in a fire; its successor was also privately erected, but was turned over to the federal government in 1800, having been lit the previous year. This tower lasted somewhat longer, apparently destroyed by lightning in 1803. The following year a 38 feet (12 m) stone tower was erected; this was rebuilt somewhat in 1818, increasing the height of the tower. Various upgrades to the tower were performed over the years including new lamps and an octagonal lantern. There was no keeper's dwelling at the site until 1842.

Starting in 1857, construction on Fort Taber (also known as Fort Rodman) begin adjacent to the lighthouse. The fort became obsolete following the civil war, and construction was finally halted in 1871, though the stone superstructure was essentially complete by the end of the war. The walls were found to obscure the lighthouse beacon from some quarters, and therefore a new lighthouse was built on the fort itself. This was a small wooden structure with the lantern set on its hipped roof. Special swinging frames were provided for the lantern to minimize the risk of damage when the fort's cannons were fired, but these were never put to the test. The old tower was abandoned and was eventually demolished in 1906. By that time the Butler Flats Light had been established next to the shipping channel, and the light on the fort was rendered obsolete; the Clarks Point keeper was transferred to the new light in 1898, and the old light was extinguished.

New Bedford Fort
The lantern of the lighthouse is barely visible over the right center of the fort.

It remained perched on the fort, however, and in the early 1970s it was restored along with the remains of the fort. Nonetheless it was badly damaged by vandals. In the late 1990s the city restored the area around the fort as a park, and in 2001 the lighthouse was rebuilt and relit, along with two other lighthouses. It continues in operation as a private aid to navigation.

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