Horseneck Point Lifesaving Station

Experience a glimpse of Massachusetts maritime history at Westport’s Horseneck Point Lifesaving Station, one of the last of its kind in the state and the only one on Buzzards Bay. Built in 1888 to protect sailors along this dangerous stretch of Buzzards Bay’s coastline, the Lifesaving Station was restored and reopened as a visitor center in 2009 by the Westport Fishermen’s Association.

Today, the Lifesaving Station is managed the Buzzards Bay Coalition. This center tells the story of the Bay’s treacherous entrance, and the history of oil spills and accidents that have driven recent successes in environmental protection.

Discover Buzzards Bay Sponsored By primary sponsor logo
Discover Buzzards Bay Sponsored By

History

Horseneck Lifesaving station and museum at sunset

The Buzzards Bay Coalition maintains this historic station as a museum, which offers a glimpse into Westport’s maritime history.

In 1888, the Humane Society of Massachusetts built the Horseneck Point Lifesaving Station as one of 69 coastal rescue stations to help aid mariners in distress offshore. During that age of inaccurate charts, few navigational markers, and sail-powered ships at the mercy of bad weather, shipwrecks were a serious problem.

The Horseneck station — first situated at the mouth of Westport Harbor, and relocated to its current position near the causeway to Gooseberry Island in 1894 — originally housed the 30-foot lifeboat Westport, which was equipped and ready to rescue sailors from any ships that might founder in nearby waters.

After the Lifesaving Station was decommissioned in 1913, it lived several lives as a restaurant, bar, clam shack, ice cream parlor, residence, and an environmental visitor center called The Edge. With each new use, the original structure was buried under additions and renovations.

In 2007, the Westport Fishermen’s Association began the process of restoring the Lifesaving Station to its original appearance and removing all of the additions. The restoration was completed in 2009, and the current Lifesaving Station opened as a museum and visitor center in 2014.

When the Westport Fishermen’s Association merged with the Buzzards Bay Coalition in 2018, the station’s lease passed to the Coalition for operation and management. It’s one of only four remaining lifesaving stations in Massachusetts that’s intact and open to the public.

To learn more about the Lifesaving Station’s history, download The Story of the Horseneck Point Lifesaving Station by the Westport Fishermen’s Association.

Features

The Lifesaving Station tells the story of Buzzards Bay’s treacherous entrance, and the history of oil spills and accidents in the Bay – as well as the recent successes in environmental protection that these accidents have driven. This piece of Westport’s history is part of the Coalition’s network of learning centers and conservation reserves around the region.

Just offshore from the Lifesaving Station and Gooseberry Island lie navigational hazards like Hen and Chickens Reef and Old Cock, a rock with a 36-foot iron spindle jutting up to the Bay’s surface. To this day, this passage remains notorious with mariners for rough seas and a history of wrecks.

One of the most recent accidents in this location was the Bouchard 120 oil spill. In April 2003, a tank barge moving through the Bay struck underwater rocks and spilled roughly 98,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil. In the wake of this spill, the Coalition led a successful campaign to secure one of the strictest oil spill prevention laws in the country.

The Lifesaving Station is open to the public seasonally from June through September, and hosts select programs throughout the fall and winter. In the summer, the station will host our coastal touch tank, where you can get up close and personal with sea stars, hermit crabs, whelks, and bay scallops. Check our events page for upcoming events.

The Horseneck Beach Lifesaving Station is also the home of a weather station, which monitors local conditions and provides a weekly forecast. Currently being refurbished by the Coalition, this station will continue to offer the most localized and up-to-date weather forecast that surfers, boaters, beachgoers and fishermen can find for the Westport coast.

Property Owned By

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and sustainable use and enjoyment of our irreplaceable Bay and its watershed.

Details
Hours: Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12 to 4pm from June 30-Sept. 2
Parking: Medium-sized unpaved parking lot across East Beach Rd.
Cost: Free
Dogs: No
Facilities: Learning Center, Restrooms (seasonal)
ADA Accessible: Yes

Please follow all posted rules and regulations at this property.

Address & Contact Information
241 East Beach Road
Westport, MA 02790
41.496616, -71.038690
Buzzards Bay Coalition: (508) 999-6363
Email: info@savebuzzardsbay.org

Please follow all posted rules and regulations at this property.

Horseneck Point Lifesaving Station
Westport, MA
View larger map

Related Stories

Westport Fishermen’s Association leaves a legacy of clean water for the Westport River

The Coalition is proud to carry on the Westport Fisherman's Association's legacy of protecting clean water in Westport and across Buzzards Bay.

Full Story ›
Westport Fishermen’s Association merges with Coalition to continue and strengthen legacy of advocacy for Westport River

Thirty-five years after its founding as the Westport River's grassroots advocate, the WFA has found a strong ally in the Coalition to sustain and grow its legacy work.

Full Story ›
10 reasons why 2018 was another great year for Buzzards Bay

Although so much remains to be done to protect and restore the Bay’s health, I’m proud to share with you some of our greatest accomplishments from 2018.

Full Story ›

Upcoming Events Near Here

Snowy Owl & Winter Beach Walk
Wed, February 20
10:00AM - 11:00AM
Gooseberry Island Parking Lot,
Westport
Mid-Winter Wildlife Walk
Sat, February 23
9:00AM - 11:00AM
Lloyd Center for the Environment,
Dartmouth
Snowshoeing the Shoreline
Sun, February 24
9:00AM - 12:00PM
Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary,
Westport

Nearby Places to Go

Gooseberry Island

Explore nature, history, and spectacular coastal beauty along the rugged shores of Gooseberry Island in Westport.

Horseneck Beach State Reservation

With two miles of sand and surf, the 600-acre Horseneck Beach State Reservation is a recreational paradise in Westport.

Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Dartmouth protects a delicate coastal ecosystem for migratory birds.

In Your Community

Westport

The Buzzards Bay Coalition works to protect clean water in Westport by reducing pollution, protecting land, and restoring habitats.

Learn More ›
NA