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Gurnet Light Specifications

Plymouth Light specifications ("Gurnet Light")
Height: 39 feet, 102 feet above water
Construction: wood
Color: White, red sector
Characteristics: Group flashing alternate single and double white every 20 seconds—includes red sector
Range: White = 16 nautical miles; Red = 14 nautical miles


The present Plymouth Light—also known as Gurnet Light—is located 3.8 nautical miles northeast of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Gurnet was built in 1768 with two lights on the property of John and Hannah Thomas, who also became the first lighthouse-keepers; however the lights were too close together and from a distance could only be seen as a merged, single beam of light. In 1778, the lighthouse was struck by a cannonball and was repaired. In 1790 the state turned the lighthouse over to the federal government who installed the first woman lighthouse-keeper. The lighthouse burned in 1801 and the government then rebuilt it as twin towers. In 1842 the crumbling towers were replaced with two white octagonal pyramidal towers. The lights were 70 feet above sea level. However, the problem of the "merging lights" remained. In 1871 a fourth-order fresnal lens was installed, greatly increasing the strength of the lights. In 1914 the Cape Cod Canal opened, giving new importance to the Gurnet as a navigational aid. In 1924 the Bureau of Lighthouses discontinued one of the twin lights as it phased out multiple lights. The remaining light still stands. In 1997 the Coast Guard moved the lighthouse back from the eroding 45-foot cliff. It was standing only 50 feet from the edge when it was placed on rollers and moved by tracks 140 feet from its previous site. It now sits on the property of Fort Andrews at Gurnet Point. In 1999, the Coast Guard turned Gurnet Light over to Project Bug Light. The original 4th order Fresnel lens is on display at the Hull Lifesaving Museum in Hull, Massachusetts.