Built at the end of a breakwater in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Tongue Point Lighthouse was placed in operation on March 1, 1895. The lighthouse is also known as the Bridgewater Breakwater Lighthouse. Because the tower is painted black, locals often called it Bug Light.
There was never a keeper’s house associated with the lighthouse. Its keeper, Stephen Adolphus McNeil (b.1837), who had to live in town and make several trips daily to service the light and fog bell, finally got fed up with the situation and built himself a shanty that he furnished with the bare essentials so he could sleep there at night to service the station.
The Lighthouse Service requested money for a keeper’s house, but the funds were never approved. In 1904 when keeper McNeil died, his wife Flora, who was 25 years younger than him, was appointed keeper and she maintained the lighthouse for the next 16 years.
However, barges and tug boats that operated in the area found it difficult to negotiate the sharp turn around the breakwater, so in 1919 the shipping channel was made deeper and wider. In the process, the breakwater was dismantled and the Tongue Point Lighthouse was moved about 300 feet back to the land where it stands today.
On June 30, 2004, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the Tongue Point Lighthouse was offered for free to any qualified applicant, but none stepped forward. The lighthouse was then slated to be sold at auction to the highest bidder. But the federal government withdrew it from the process because of security concerns due to the lighthouse’s close proximity to a power plant.
However with changes planned for the power plant, there is now talk of having the lighthouse taken over by the city.
This story appeared in the
Mar/Apr 2020 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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