Sheffield Island Light is a historic lighthouse located at the southern end of the Norwalk Islands in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Sheffield Island, at the time known as “White Island,” was bought by Captain Robert Sheffield in 1804 for $6000. In 1826, Sheffield’s son in law, Gershom Smith, sold four of the island’s 53 acres to the U. S. Treasury Department for the specific purpose of the construction of a lighthouse. Smith would serve as the first keeper for the lighthouse, which was completed in 1828, until 1845, when he was removed soon after President John Tyler took office. Smith was not a Tyler supporter, and the job security of lighthouse keepers in those days was subject to the political winds. The first light originally ran on oil.
In 1987 the 118-year-old lighthouse was acquired by the Norwalk Seaport Association and underwent renovation and restoration, and in 2011, its gasoline generator system was replaced by a solar powered system.
Although lighthouses appear to be lonely and isolated, they are actually serve a very important purpose. Their powerful beam warns incoming ships of dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals, reefs, and rocks, and facilitates safe entry into harbors.They also assist in aerial navigation. Even though today most vessels use electronic navigation, there is still a place for the old-fashioned lighthouse.
The lighthouse was, and still is, a simple, effective way to offer protection to the ships and barges that were headed towards the shore. All it took was a beam of light.
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