Riverside is in the southern part of East Providence, Rhode Island. It is as a suburban neighborhood for Providence. Known as Cedar Grove until 1878, it was originally a farming and fishing community.
In the late 19th century, Riverside was home to many hotels and dinner halls that catered to summer visitors from the big cities. But Riverside is perhaps best known for the famous Crescent Park Amusement Park that operated here between 1886 and 1979, often referred to as “Coney Island of the East”.
Pomham Rocks Lighthouse lies some 200 yards off the shoreline of the Riverside neighborhood.
Pomham Rocks Light (also known as Pomham Lighthouse) sits on a large rock on the east side of the Providence River, a mere three miles from downtown Providence. “Pomham Rocks” is named after a Narragansett Indian chief and consists of two rocky islets connected at low water by a bar.
The forty-foot-tall Pomham Rocks Lighthouse went into operation in 1871. The seven-room light was one of several New England lighthouses built to the same plan after an award winning design by a Vermont architect. The square, two-story, wood-framed keeper’s residence is topped by a short tower that rises from the west side of roof. The small, separate stone building also found on the rock is the station’s 1900 oil house.
In 1980, the lighthouse and grounds were purchased by Exxon Mobil, which had a terminal nearby. Then in 2005, the Company leased the structure to the American Lighthouse Foundation for restoration (with a generous fund), eventually donating the lighthouse to the Friends of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse in 2010.
BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH
Pomham Rocks Light is best photographed in the early morning hours when the structure is front-lit, or in the late afternoon hours when it is back-lit. My favorite time is at sunset between October and February. At that time of year, the sun sets behind the lighthouse, increasing the odds of dramatic skies.
The lighthouse is not open to the public but can be seen from the East Bay Bicycle Path in East Providence. I find the most photogenic angle to be from the shore of the Providence River, just off the bicycle path.
Leave your car in the free parking area at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Bullocks Point Avenue in East Providence, and walk north on the East Bay Bicycle Path. After about half a mile, you’ll see the lighthouse to your left, sitting on a large rock in the Providence River.
Once you’ve cleared the trees blocking the view, you can photograph the lighthouse from the bicycle path if you choose, but I always make my way down to shore to be closer to the water and to avoid distractions.
If you make your way down to the shoreline from the bicycle path, beware of the brambles that threaten to entangle your feet and legs! Also, the steep slope leading down to the river can be slippery when wet.
At high tide (this is a tidal river), the shore is narrow so bring waterproof boots to keep your feet dry.