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Inside White Lighthouse

White Island from LighthouseLOOKING OUT ON THE ISLES OF SHOALS SINCE 1859

It's old, it's dark, it's endangered -- and we're on the inside. Poised on a steep cliff above the Atlantic, the brick tower is now in state hands. takes you up the down staircase.

Forgot those romantic images you have of Celia Thaxter playing in the lighthouse as a child. This is a harsh environment. Even on a perfect summer day, White Island lighthouse is a difficult place to reach and a bit scary inside.

Tom Mansfield of NH DRED unlocked the door of the lighthouse, once run by the US Coast Guard, and now owned by the state of New Hampshire. The automated light has been decades without a keeper and the Fresnel lens and fog horn are powered by solar panels and batteries.

Besides an old chair and a cart littered with odd items, there is nothing at the base of the lighthouse. It is dark inside with only a single window deeply set into the circular brick wall. The elaborate iron staircase is the most amazing feature – all that fancy design seen by so few people. The handrail on the circular staircase is a single strand of rope. There is one small keeper’s room just below the lantern area. Only the lantern lens is maintained by the Coast Guard.

A thick window set in a heavy casement opens to the narrow 250 degree balcony that encircles the tower. We only the guts to stand there for about 30 seconds before vertigo and images of old Alfred Hitchcock movies took control and we dipped back inside. --- JDR

SEE: White Island Still Crumbling
SEE: Jeremy's Lighthouse Guide

Opening White Lighthouse

White Lighthouse Stairs


Fresnel Lens

White Island Keeper's Cottage

All Photos by J. Dennis Robinson,

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Thursday, February 22, 2018 
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