Plum Island Light (Newburyport Harbor Light 1788)

photo - Plum Island Light
Northern Boulevard
Newburyport, MA 01950

Newburyport Harbor Light Station, also known as Plum Island Light, is located on the northern end of Plum Island at the mouth of the Merrimack River. The original Newburyport Harbor Light Station was established to safely guide mariners into the harbor in 1788. The present 45-foot tall, wooden, conical tower replaced the remaining towers in 1898. Set some distance back from the beach, it is constructed on sandy yet firm ground and is thereby protected from the continuously changing shoreline. Newburyport Harbor Light retains its original fourth-order Fresnel lens. Although the nearby, two-story keeper's dwelling (1872) still stands, only the light tower is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Looking west from Newburyport Harbor Light, the Newburyport Harbor Range Lights are visible. The Newburyport Harbor Light is a Federal aid to navigation.

Hours: 

generally closed to the public but is occasionally open on weekends during the summer.

Site Notes & Advisories: 

Noted spot for birding, look for shorebirds in spring and fall (e.g. Hudsonian godwit) migration, waterfowl (goldeneyes, scaup, long-tailed ducks, wigeon) and gulls (Iceland, glaucous, black-headed) in the winter, and waders in the summer. The rule of thumb for shorebirds in Newburyport Harbor is to arrive 4-4.5 hours after or 3-4.5 hours before Boston high tide. Waterfowl viewing is better at higher tides. Check for gulls behind the water treatment plant at mid or lower tides. Habitats: Newburyport harbor and the Merrimack River estuary are one of the most important birding locations in the county. The combination of extensive tidal mudflats, salt marshes, large shellfish beds, and productive waters make this area a draw for birders and birds alike. Special Recognition: Within Great Marsh Important Bird Area; Western Hemispheric Shore Bird Reserve Network Regional Site.

Flags: 

  • Parking

Categories: 

  • Birding
  • Historic Resources
  • Maritime Theme Trail
  • Scenic Vistas

Property Owner/Organization: 

U.S. Coast Guard, City of Newburyport and The Friends of Plum Island Light, Inc.
Essex Coastal Scenic Byway
Rail Trail
Rail Trail Trailhead