|Peck Ledge, CT|
Description: Peck Ledge Lighthouse (also known as Peck's Ledge and Pecks Ledge) is located at the northeast end of the scenic Norwalk Islands. Consisting of sixteen islands and countless smaller rocks, this archipelago has long been a major hazard to marine traffic entering and leaving Norwalk Harbor. The first lighthouse in the area was constructed on Sheffield Island, the largest of the Norwalk Islands.
As the harbor was dredged to accommodate increased shipping traffic, underwater hazards that had not previously been a problem suddenly became dangerous to the increasingly larger ships with bigger drafts. As a result, the Sheffield Island light was no longer considered adequate, and was replaced by the combination of Green’s Ledge Lighthouse to the southwest, and Peck Ledge at the northeast end of the islands. The lighthouse at Green’s ledge was completed in 1902, while the one at Peck Ledge, positioned to identify a shoal protruding north from Goose Island, was finished in 1906. Peck Ledge Lighthouse was the last built on a wave-swept site on Long Island Sound, and the one with the shortest service time (only twenty-seven years, from 1906 to 1933).
In any case, it was too late by that time to change the site, and construction continued. The structure was a “spark plug” type design that was typical of the time: a cast-iron foundation assembled on shore, floated to the site, sunk into place in seven feet of water and filled with concrete. A cast-iron structure was placed on the foundation, with the lantern room 61 feet above the water. This type of construction was cost-efficient and provided the best protection against waves and winter ice floes for offshore light stations. The station went into operation in 1906 with a fourth-order Fresnel lens showing a two-second white flash every ten seconds.
The interior was lined with brick, and included a basement and three floors for living space and storage, topped by a wood-lined watch room and the cast iron lantern above that.
On February 17, 1913, Keeper Conrad Hawk, while preparing to tar some lobster trap funnels, set a tub of hot tar on a newspaper near the stove in the kitchen. He then noticed that a post lantern nearby at Grassy Hammock was not working, and set out in his rowboat to adjust it. On his way back to the lighthouse, Hawk saw smoke pouring from the windows. He tried to smother the fire with a blanket, but the heat was too intense. Finally, he managed to drag the tub full of tar across the floor with a clam rake and knock it out the window into the sea. Climbing up the outside wall to an upstairs bedroom, Hawk retrieved a heavy blanket, which he draped over the kitchen window to reduce the draft feeding the fire. Using a bucket and rope to draw seawater, he was then able to douse the remaining flames.
The station was automated in 1933, despite vocal protests from local citizens. The light continues to operate today, although it is sometimes difficult to see with the competition from the bright lights of nearby Calf Pasture Beach. The structure is well preserved, although there was a problem with birds frequently nesting inside the building, entering through windows broken by vandals. In 1990 the Coast Guard sandblasted and repainted the caisson, cleaned and repainted the interior, and covered the windows. The light is reachable only by a 15-foot outside ladder, making access difficult for Coast Guard maintenance crews. When seas are flat, a boat can be tied directly to the ladder, but if there’s any swell at all crew members must be dropped off one at a time, a sometimes-hairy process.
In 2004, the Coast Guard said that it plans to put 100 tons of granite riprap around the east side of the tower, and some step-cut stones on the west side to make access by boat easier for maintenance crews.
In May 2014, Peck Ledge Lighthouse, deemed excess by the Coast Guard, was made available under the guidelines of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act “to eligible entities defined as Federal Agencies, state and local agencies, non-profit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations, for education, park, recreation, cultural, or historic preservation purposes.” If a new custodian is not found, the lighthouse will be sold at auction.
Located just over two miles offshore from
Calf Pasture Park, which is found at the
eastern side of the entrance to Norwalk
Harbor. The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard. Tower closed.
The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard. Tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.