Whale Rock is a small, rocky island in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. It is located in the West Passage of the bay, west of the Beavertail area on Conanicut Island. Whale Rock is a dangerous hazard to navigation, and has been the site of many shipwrecks over the years.
The first recorded shipwreck on Whale Rock was in 1768, when the sloop Betsey struck the rock and sank. In the following years, several more ships were lost on Whale Rock, including the schooner Robin in 1873, the bark Thomas Powell in 1875, and the schooner Alice in 1876.
In 1872, the Lighthouse Board recommended that a light be built on Whale Rock to warn mariners of the danger. Congress ignored the recommendation, but in 1882, the Lighthouse Board built the Whale Rock Lighthouse on the island. The lighthouse was a 73-foot-tall cast-iron tower on a cylindrical caisson. It had a fixed red light that could be seen for 11¼ miles.
The Whale Rock Lighthouse served mariners for over 50 years. In 1938, the lighthouse was destroyed by the New England Hurricane. The lighthouse keeper, Walter Eberle, was killed when the lighthouse was dislodged from its foundation.
The Whale Rock Lighthouse was never rebuilt. Today, the only remains of the lighthouse are the caisson and some underwater debris. Whale Rock is now marked by a lighted gong buoy.
The story of Whale Rock is a reminder of the dangers of navigation in Narragansett Bay. The island has claimed many ships and lives over the years, and it is important for mariners to be aware of the hazard.
Keith R Wahl, Made From RI Gallery