Perched way upon the cliffs of Mohegan Bluffs, the Southeast Lighthouse is the highest and most visible on the New England coast, with a beam that can be seen 35 miles out to sea. And for good reason—it’s been estimated that of all the shipwrecks in New England, half have occurred off the treacherous shores of Block Island .
Southeast Lighthouse (122 Mohegan Tr., 401/466-5009, www.lighthouse.cc/blockisoutheast , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily late June–early Sept.; 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun. late May–late June and early Sept.–early Oct., free) looks more like a Gothic mansion than the traditional black-and-white tower. The brick keeper’s house is attached to the structure, making the 52-foot lighthouse itself seem like a turret.
Part of the lighthouse’s appeal for visitors is its history of migration. While Southeast Lighthouse was originally built 300 feet from the bluffs in 1878, erosion over time narrowed that gap to just 35 feet. In 1993, the Southeast Lighthouse Foundation spent more than $2 million to lift the entire structure up on beams lubricated with Ivory soap and slide it back to its original distance from the edge.
Inside, a small museum details the history of the structure and the move, supplemented by tours ($10 adults, $5 seniors and children 6–17, free children under 6) every hour on the half-hour. Currently, the interior of the structure is being restored, and plans are to soon open a larger museum inside with more old photos and reconstructed keepers’ quarters. At the rate the cliffs are receding, no doubt the museum will one day include exhibits about the heroic move back from the edge in 2107.