Minot’s Ledge—about a mile offshore, near the border between the towns of Cohasset and Scituate on the south shore of Boston, Massachusetts—is a 25-foot-wide rock ledge that is part of the dangerous Cohasset Rocks. In 1847, Congress appropriated funds for a lighthouse on Minot’s Ledge. Capt. William H. Swift of the Corps of Topographical Engineers planned an iron pile lighthouse at Minot’s Ledge, a 70-foot-tall, spidery structure with piles drilled into the rock, on the theory that waves would pass harmlessly through the structure. The lighthouse was lighted for the first time on January 1, 1850. This is the story of its fate.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org