Duxbury Pier Light
aka "Bug Light"


buglight1Duxbury Pier Light – also known as Bug Light – is located on the channel that leads to Plymouth, Kingston, and Duxbury (Massachusetts) harbors. (Coordinates: 41 59 15 N   70 38 55 W)


Height: 34 feet

Construction: Cast iron

Lens: Plastic optical system

Color: Red

Characteristics: Two red flashes every five (5) seconds

Range: 6 nautical miles, higher intensity beam seaward

Fog signal: One (1) blast every 15 seconds (2 second blast). Radio activated (via MRASS) and lasts 60 minutes.

(Source US Coast Guard Light List _V1_2019 Page 112)


Bug Light, (officially known as Duxbury Pier Light, or, fondly, “The Bug”) was first lit on September 15, 1871, it was installed to protect mariners from the dangerous shoal off Saquish Head.

In truth, the lighthouse is neither in Duxbury nor is it on a pier. In 1813, a stone pier was erected near where Bug Light is today. It was twelve feet square at the bottom, and eighteen feet high, six feet above the water at high tide. The lighthouse’s closeness to the pier and to the town of Duxbury is probably how it came to be officially named Duxbury Pier Light. The picture included shows both the original lighthouse and the pier close by. The pier no longer exists but the pile of riprap it stood on remains.

Bug Light in 1871, with pier from 1813 at left

Bug Light was the first cast-iron caisson style lighthouse built in the United States. Its light stands 35’ above high tide. The lighthouse contains four levels that include living quarters, sleeping quarters, a watchroom, and a lantern room.

Updated plans after tower completed, July 1872


Sink and original metal ladder to the third level. Note the well pump for water.
Sleeping quarters

The lantern room at the top held a fourth order Fresnel lens. A red glass shade inside made its beam bright red.

Improvements were made to The Bug over time, including:

  • Adding 100 tons of stones around the base in 1886, and another 175 tons in 1890
  • Building a catwalk with a roof in 1897
  • Installing a 700 gallon cistern in 1900
  • Adding a fog bell in 1902

In 1964, the operation of the lighthouse was automated. The Fresnel lens was replaced with a plastic optical system, with a signal of two red flashes every 5 seconds.

The signal lantern stands about 2 feet high
Looking up from the current light to the ceiling of the lantern room

By this time a fog horn had been installed on Bug Light, producing a blast every 15 seconds. Residents in Duxbury, Kingston, and Plymouth can still hear the reassuring sound of the horn on a foggy night, even though they are miles away from it.

Ladder to lantern room showing solar power system equipment and floor grates

In 1983, due to vandalism and the deteriorated condition of the Bug, the Coast Guard announced its plan to replace it with a light atop a pole.

In response, a group of concerned residents who did not want to lose this treasured lighthouse formed Project Bug Light to save it. Under licenses from the Coast Guard, a salty band of volunteers has preserved the Bug for over 30 years.

Deer Island Light in Boston Harbor was replaced by a light on a pole

Bug Light Today