Lighthouse Lifeline

Ida Lewis

Ida Lewis (1842-1911) was only 12 years old when she saved four men whose boat capsized in the Atlantic Ocean. Ida’s father was the lighthouse keeper on Lime Rock Island. She was young and strong – the best swimmer in her family, and the one responsible for rowing her siblings to the mainland every day to attend school. It was natural that Ida become the co-keeper after her father’s stroke. In 1869, after saving two  soldiers, Ida was awarded a Congressional Medal from President Ulysses S. Grant. After her father’s death, Ida was caretaker for both mother and lighthouse. Her last rescue, when she was 63, meant Ida spent 51 years rescuing people from the sea. Ida’s life was rare – a woman whose accomplishments were recognized within her lifetime. In 1924, Rhode Island renamed Lime Rock Island  and the lighthouse in her honor. Lewis Rock Island and the Ida Lewis Lighthouse are both part of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club. Ida Lewis was the greatest woman in maritime history.