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Dumpling Rock, MA  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Dumpling Rock Lighthouse

1838 – Dumpling-rock light.—Nine miles within Cutterhunk light, on the opposite side of Buzzard's bay, stands Dumpling-rock light. This light is insulated a few hundred yards from the main land, and is on the keeper’s dwelling, forty-three feet above the level of the sea. It is a useful light in guiding vessels into Dartmouth harbor, and in enabling them to avoid the dangers of this immediate navigation; but, like most of the lights in this district, it is much larger than is necessary. There are the same number of lamps in it, with fourteen-inch reflectors, that are in the exterior light of Cutterhunk; one of the lamps is reflecting the light to no useful purpose towards the shore. I recommend, strenuously, the suppression of the upper lamps, and a compact arrangement of the remaining six. They are now seven inches apart.
I visited this light in the afternoon, and found the keeper absent on the main, without having paid the least attention to the lamps since he extinguished them in the morning. The reflectors appeared not to have been burnished for some time, and the lantern was covered with smoke. This keeper and his family were in danger of being drowned out, until Government built a wall round the dwelling; since which, they have lived in safety. Located as this light is, on a small barren rock, with fewer advantages to the keeper than, perhaps, any other light in the district, it would seem proper that I should notice the fact of his salary being smaller by $50 than that of many others.

1838 – Dumpling-rock light to be reduced from 10 to 6 lamps, and they to be arranged to suit the navigation. One of the lamps now faces the shore. Dumpling Rock
Fixed light of ten lamps; established 1829.
Condition of buildings.
Two-story dwelling-house of rubble masonry, laid up in bad lime mortar, with an octagonal iron lantern erected upon the ridge of roof; roof slated; base of house rests on the surface of a dry ledge, and is surrounded with a wall of rubble masonry six feet high, to break off the shocks of the sea. This wall was erected subsequent to the establishment of the lighthouse, and to save the keeper and family from being drowned out. The walls of the house are cracked on the southwest corner, and the windows are leaky; otherwise in good repairs. The rain-water cistern is leaky, and in storms gets filled with salt instead of fresh water, from the surf flying over the roof of the house.
The lantern is of the usual form, and had been shaken nearly to pieces by storms. It contains ten lamps, with 14-inch reflectors, arranged in two circular series, as usual. One lamp has faced the roof of the lantern for fourteen years, and two others shine over the land. The same carelessness in arranging the apparatus is observable here as elsewhere.
The centre of the light is forty-three feet above the level of mean high water, and its reach should be 9.81 miles in clear weather.
Location: Dumpling rock lies on the west side of Buzzard’s bay, among a group of dry ledges, six miles S.S. W. of Clark’s Point light. Its surface is very small, leaving but little room for the keeper to move about outside the wall which protects his house. The vicinity is crowded with dangerous reefs and shoals. The ship channel passes within pistol-shot of the light-house.
Statement of Levi Smith, keeper of Dumpling Rock fixed light, Buzzard’s bay, October 7, 1842.
I was appointed keeper of this light in 1828, upon a salary of $400. The light-house is a two-story stone tenement, with the lanterns fixed upon the roof. The walls of the house are cracked upon the northeast corner, owing, I think, to the late season of the year in which they were completed. I have pointed these cracks with cement. The lantern on the roof of the house contains ten lamps, one of which has always faced the copper door of the lantern, and does no good to any body. The lantern is a very bad one; it shakes very much in blowing weather; leaks profusely; and sweats so as to obscure the light in winter, by the accumulation of frost upon the glass. The reflectors are all worn out, and the silver burnt off; the rain-water cistern is built or brick, and has been much injured by the freezing of the water in winter; the windows on the east side of the house leak badly in rainy weather; the sea breaks all over the rock here in easterly gales, and, falling upon the roof of the house, gets into the cistern, and spoils the water. I am allowed a boat. My oil has been good.
Levi Smith, Keeper

1850 – Dumpling Rock light-house. – 10 lamps; Levi Smith, keeper; supplied July 8, 1850. Lantern is rusty, and I might say very rusty. Chimneys want to be new topped; slating is off, and the roof leaky, and the walls of the house need pointing and whitewashing; lighting apparatus is clean, and in good order; reflectors are good. A new lantern and lighting apparatus will be necessary soon - that is, within two or three years.
Left June 30, 1849, 404 gallons. On hand 74 gallons. 330 gallons consumed in 373 days is equal to 322 gallons per year, or 32 7/10 gallons per lamp.
Delivered 176 gallons spring oil, 99 gallons winter oil, on hand 70, total of 345 gallons.
4 gross wicks; 25 yards cloth; 1 buff skin; 1 box Tripoli; 1 box soap; 1 pair scissors; 2 burners, complete; 1 wick box; t lamp feeder; 2 oil-butts; 1 butt stand; 1 hand lamp.
Common burners;14-inch reflectors; spare lamps in good order.

1855 - Keeper Levi Smith $400

1857 – In the second light-house district, embracing the coast from Hampton harbor, New Hampshire, to Goosebury Point, Massachusetts, lenses have been placed in the following named light-houses: Annisquam, Straitsmouth, Eastern Point, Ten-pound island, Baker’s island, Marblehead, Cape Cod, Chatham, Monomoy, Great Point, Brant Point, Point Gammon, Cape Poge, Cuttyhunk, Dumpling Rock, Clark’s Point, Palmer’s island, Neda Point, Bird island, Wing’s Neck.

1863 – Dumpling Rock, new lantern provided, platforms renewed, &c;

1867 – At Dumpling Rock, window and door frames packed with paint cement and painted, broken glass repaired and sashes reputtied and painted, tops of chimneys, gutters, window blinds, parapet wall and railing repainted, blind hinges renailed and door fastenings repaired, and all defective, joints of house walls repointed with cement mortar, northerly boat slip and steps rebuilt and southerly ways repaired and refastened.

1868 – Dumpling Rock.—Lower end of boat-slip refastened; new boathouse built, sides and roof boarded and shingled, and painted, two coats; double-board floor, and attic single-board; four windows, double doors in one end and single door in side, tongued and grooved; sills bolted to rock. Platform renewed, 40 feet in length 9 feet 6 inches wide, and 60 feet in length 5 feet wide, of 2-inch plank, on sills 6 by 6 bolted to the rock; roof of shed reshingled on tarred paper; new floor laid in one room; pawl to crane repaired; sliding strips to shed door renewed; tower and all exterior trimmings of dwelling painted one coat, new storm blinds three coats; one skid in boat-slip renewed; walls repapered; illuminating apparatus examined and burners repaired; new blocks for boat-falls, new sail-boat and accessories, supplied.

1880 – Dumpling Rock (Round Hill), Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts.— The keeper’s dwelling was repaired and painted, and the fog-bell machinery overhauled.

1888 – Dumpling Rock, entrance to New Bedford Harbor, Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts.—The old and worn-out striking-machine of the fog-bell was replaced by one in good order. The keeper’s dwelling is in a dilapidated condition. It was built of stone in 1828, and is in such bad condition that it would be a waste of money to give it further repair. If this dwelling is to be kept habitable it will be necessary to expend in its repair a sum that would amount to a considerable part of the cost of a-new house. It would be in the interests of true economy, for the comfort of the keepers, and for the efficiency of the public service that a new dwelling should be built at this station at the earliest day practicable. It is estimated that such a building will cost $3,750.

1889 – Dumpling Rock, off Round Hill, Massachusetts.—Measures are in progress for rebuilding the dwelling and tower surmounting it. Some repairs were made at the light-house.

1890 – Dumpling Rock (Round Hill), Buzzard’s Bay. Massachusetts.—Exhibited temporarily, without change of characteristics or height, from fog-bell tower about 60 feet southerly from old tower. July 27, 1889.

1890 – Dumpling Rock, Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts.—The old stone dwelling, built in 1828, was torn down and replaced upon the same foundation by a framed dwelling 34 by 26 feet in plan, surmounted by a wooden tower with a modern fourth-order lantern. For its protection against the sea a bulkhead 90 feet long was built of hard pine timber, heavily bolted to the rock and re-enforced by dry masonry from the stones of the old dwelling.

1894 – Dumpling Bock, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.—The light was changed, December 22,1893, from fixed white to fixed white with a fixed red sector. The red sector extends from NE. ½ N. northwestwardly to NE. ¾ E. and covers Mishaum Ledge.

1896 – Dumpling Rock, off Round Hill, New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts.—The south boat ways were rebuilt. Minor repairs were made.

1897 – Dumpling Rock, off Round Hill, New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts. — Preparations were made for establishing a Daboll trumpet, operated by an oil steam engine. NOTE.—This signal was established on October 12, 1897.

1898 – Dumpling Rock, off New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts.—The boat slip was rebuilt. A telephone line was built by contract, from the shore opposite the station to Nonquitt, Mass., under the appropriation for national defense.

1898 – Dumpling Rock, Massachusetts.—This Daboll trumpet was in operation 381 hours, and consumed 307 gallons of mineral oil. An oil burning steam engine was installed October 12,1897.

1899 – Dumpling Rock, off New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts.—A cable was laid to connect the station with the telephone line on the mainland. An addition was built to the boathouse and minor repairs were made to the boat slip. Various repairs were made.

1899 – Dumpling Rock Light-station, Massachusetts.—This Daboll trumpet was in operation 862 hours and consumed 998 gallons of mineral oil.

1900 – Dumpling Rock, Massachusetts.—This Daboll trumpet was in operation some 707 hours, and consumed about 1,099 gallons of mineral oil.

1901 – Dumpling Rock, off New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts.—The engine house was enlarged, a brick oil house was built, the two 2-horsepower steam oil engines were replaced by two 4-horsepower Hornsby-Akroyd oil engines. Minor repairs were made to the boat slip.

1901 – Dumpling Rock, Massachusetts.—This Daboll trumpet was in operation some 657 hours, and consumed about 889 gallons of mineral oil.

1902 – Dumpling Rock, Massachusetts.—This second-class Daboll trumpet was in operation some 753 hours, and consumed about 575 gallons of mineral oil.

1903 – Dumpling Rock, Massachusetts.—This first-class Daboll trumpet was in operation some 902 hours, and consumed about 625 gallons of mineral oil.

1904 – Dumpling Rock, Massachusetts.—This first-class Daboll trumpet was in operation some 746 hours, and about 653 gallons of mineral oil was used by the engine. This fog-signal plant consists of 4-horsepower oil engines, air compressors, and air tanks, all in duplicate, and a first-class Daboll trumpet They use 5 pounds pressure and 2.63 cubic feet of free air a second of blast.

1905 – Dumpling Rock, off New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts.—A short breakwater was built to protect the landings. Repairs were made.

1905 – Dumpling Rock, Massachusetts.—This first-class Daboll trumpet was in operation about 781 hours, and some 832 gallons of mineral oil were used by the engine.

1906 – Dumpling Rock, Massachusetts.—This first-class Daboll trumpet was in operation some 713 hours, and some 639 gallons of mineral oil were used.

1907 – Dumpling Rock, Massachusetts.—This first-class Daboll trumpet was in operation some 786 hours, and about 837 gallons of mineral oil were used by the engine.

1919 – J.E. Rogers, keeper, C.E. Ellis, assistant towed disabled motor boat Nistia with six men aboard to New Bedford Yacht Club, Mass. Happened on Nov. 16, 1919.

1921 – J. E. Rogers, keeper, Dumpling Rock Light Station, Mass., assisted in pulling off the rocks, on the southwest side of the light, the disabled power boat Kyra with five men on board and in anchoring it in safe water. Happened on July 31, 1921.

1923 – John E. Rogers, keeper of Dumpling Rock Light Station, Mass., and Theodore L. Chase, assistant keeper, on October 21, rendered assistance to the disabled power boat C 5006 and its occupants.

1938 – The New England Hurricane of 1938 seriously damaged the lighthouse.

1942 – The lighthouse was demolished and a skeletal tower erected to display an automatic light.


  • Head: Levi Smith (1828 – 1856), Charles C. Smith (1856 – 1873), George B. Sistare (1873 – 1883), Frank W. Thomas (1883 – 1884), Charles H. Hinckley (1884 – 1892), William H. Doane (1892 – 1896), Maynard F. Rush (1896 – 1909), Ernest H. Small (1909 – 1911), Edward E. Brewer (1911 – at least 1913), Andrew Tullock (at least 1915), John E. Rogers (at least 1917 – 1933), George T. Gustavus (1934 – 1936), J.J. Collins (1937), Octave J. Ponsart (1937 – 1942).
  • Assistant: Thomas Allen (1867 – 1870), George B. Sistare (1870 – 1873), George V.C. Bacon (1900), Ernest R. Sylvester (1900 – 1903), Percy Williams (1903 – 1904), Vivian A. Currier (1904), Samuel F. Dunton (1904), John J. Irving (1904 – 1907), Edward Eveleth Brewer, Sr. (1907 – 1909), Howard S. Haggett (1909), George L. Brightman (1909), John Lopes (1909), F.W. Field (1909 – 1912), William E. Wheeler (1912 – ), Charles A. Ellis (at least 1913 – at least 1919), Charles E. Spring (1921), Theodore L. Chase (1923 – 1925), Frederick A.C. Bohm (1926 – 1927), John A. Strout (at least 1930), John O. Ganze (1935), Milton Hague (1936), Joseph J. Collins (1936), Henry J. Fontneau (1936 – 1940).

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