Palmer Island Lighthouse MA
Limited Edition of 300 pieces
Size: 6 1/2" W by 4 1/2" D by 5" T
Shipping: September 1, 2017
In the 1800's, New Bedford was the capital of the country's whaling industry. Ship owners and Captains petitioned Congress for the construction of a much needed lighthouse to mark the entrance to their thriving harbor.
In 1837, a beacon was built for $2000.00 at the entrance to New Bedford Harbor. Still, it soon became apparent that a lighthouse located on Palmer Island would significantly aid navigation upon entering the harbor.
Land was purchased in 1848 on the northern most tip of Palmer Island. A conical rubble stone, 24 foot tall tower with a birdcage style beacon was constructed the following year.
In order to address the problem of navigating the entrance to the harbor in dense fog, it was decided in 1900 to build a wood tower up the side of the original stone tower to house a 1,260 pound fog bell.
In 1922, Arthur Small became head keeper of Palmer Island. He had been a seaman and lighthouse keeper since the age of 14. Small was also a gifted artist who often painted scenes of the lighthouse.
On September 21, 1938 the worst hurricane in New England history hit the coast. As waves swept over the island Arthur Small encouraged his wife Mabel to take shelter in the sturdily built oil house which was located on slightly higher ground than the keepers house. Keeper Small helped Mabel secure a bag under her blouse containing their life savings of over $7000.
Small made his way to the base of the tower knowing that the beacon had to be lit. A huge wave swept him off his feet and washed him into the harbor. Small desperately started swimming back towards the tower. He was severely injured by flotsam and the remains of broken boats. Meanwhile, Mable had seen her husband be swept into the harbor and staggered through the wind and waves to the boathouse. Arthur shouted to his wife to get back to the oil house, but the wind tore his words away. The last thing he remembers before being knocked unconscious by debris was seeing a huge wave sweep over the boathouse. Tragically Small never saw his beloved Mable again.
Upon regaining consciousness, badly hurt Small made his way back to the lighthouse. He crawled up the stairs of the tower and lit the lantern and turned on the fog bell. Help finally arrived and was able to get Small to hospital. The only two structures standing at this time were the stout oil house and the tower. Despite an extensive search, Mabel was never found.
After the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1963, the station rapidly fell into disrepair. A fire in 1966 gutted the tower and almost destroyed the lantern room.
In 1999, the tower received much needed repairs and restoration. The beacon was relit, 150 years after its first lighting in 1849.