Goat Island, Newport, Rhode Island, USA

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A lighthouse on Goat Island.

I have a love of visiting Islands, small, big, it really doesn’t matter, it just has to be an island.  So when we went to the States last year 2015, we visited some islands after we had attended the wedding of our niece.  I have posted quite few posts, but I seem to be having trouble moving on from Newport on Rhode Island…….. it was the first island we stayed on and I fell in love with it.  Maybe it’s because it was the first one, but I would have no trouble in living there, so I am going to linger a little while longer, as I still have the mansions to post.  But first…. I found another island in the harbour called ‘Goat Island’ a very small island, but one with a huge history.

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In the distance the causeway over to the island, more like a bridge.

From first obsevations the island looks like is is just the home of a very large hotel, but they have a wonderful leaflet that has the history of the Island, so I have used just a little from the first page…….Indians, pirates, Colonial soldiers and the brilliant engineers of the Naval Torpedo Station walked where you now walk. This little island has seen the burning of the British sloop “Liberty”, heard what may well have been the first shots of the American Revolution, and watched the Tall Ships and the America’s Cup contenders sail past. Its lighthouses have beckoned home the weary mariner. Its shore has provided summertime pleasures for Newport families. It is a tiny island, some 20 acres, yet for 300 years it has played an important role in the history of Rhode Island.

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Goat Island from our hotel roof.

What an historial little island, but I wanted to know why it was named ‘Goat Island’  Early records show that Goat Island was home to Narragansett Indians, who called their island Nante Sinunk, and sold the island in 1658. Early Newport colonists used the island as a goat pasture, so that would be the origins of the name. In 1703 an earthen fort was built, Fort Anne, after Queen Anne and in 1738 a stone fort, replaced the older fort, which was named Fort George, after George II.  In 1775 the fort was renamed Fort Liberty, it was renamed a few more times, until in 1869 the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station was founded on Goat Island, on the site of the former Army fort.

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Nearly every torpedo used by the U.S. Navy during World War I and World War II was developed and manufactured on Goat Island.  At the peak of World War II activity, in 1944, more than 13,000 men and women were employed on Goat Island in more than 100 buildings. During that year, they produced 5,656 torpedoes.

In the 1960s, Goat Island was sold to a private developer and is now a peaceful haven, afar cry from the bustle of the torpedo factories, but what an important role it played in the history of both wars.

So it was worth the drive over to the island and then finding out about its amazing history and not just the home of a hotel and luxury yachts.

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June 2015

4 comments

  1. When I saw “Goat Island” in the title for a second I thought you’d been to Niagara Falls. The little island that splits the falls has the same name. It looks nothing like your Goat Island! Did you go out on the water?

    1. I have been to Niagara Fall, ten years ago, and thought it was amazing. But no as you say its nothing like mine LOL. No we didn’t go out on the water, too much to do on dry land (I’m not one for small boats) 🙂

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