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Block Island Ferry

Five Block Island Secrets

One of the best things about Block Island is that people get really excited about it. Whether it’s the businesses, restaurants, events, or even the history, there’s a wealth of information online and in print. Residents and visitors alike love to share things about the island.

However, there are some secrets that you can’t find on and website or book. People in the know hold these bits of information very close to the chest and away from the public eye. Well luckily for you, reader, we’ve managed to get our hands on some of these secrets and are putting them out into the world for the first time ever! If anyone asks where you found out about these, keep our name on the down-low…

1– It is widely believed that Block Island got its name from Dutch explorer Adriaen Block. However, this is a misconception. In reality, the island was a perfect square until 1933. Its current shape was a result of a leak at the Oceanview Hotel. Legend says that a maid turned on a faucet while doing a final fall cleaning and forgot to shut it off. The flow of water was not stopped until the following spring. By that time, the damage had been done and the result was the island’s current pork chop shape.

2– Interstate Navigation Company originally started as a zeppelin transportation service. While the intent was to ferry travelers from Pt Judith to Block Island, that was not always the case. Due to low altitude flight and strong winds that were prevalent during the first half of the 20th century, these airships usually ended up in states as far south as Georgia and as far west as Kansas. The fleet became sea ships in the 50s due to a very productive staff meeting. Surprisingly, it was found that turning these ships upside down and putting them in the water was much more effective way to travel. Today, each of Block Island Ferry’s ships are held up by a gigantic helium balloon just under the surface.

3– Along with Old Harbor and New Harbor, there’s a super-secret third harbor on the island. It is called Middle Harbor and was established in the early 1800s by George Glass. Since Old Harbor came first, the island gives it more responsibilities than the others, such as the ports of departure, seat of government, etc. On the other hand, residents treat New Harbor with great care and tend to devote a lot of their time to it. Middle Harbor often finds itself competing for attention and has trouble fitting in.

4– While the Mohegan Bluffs may appear large and grand, it’s all an illusion. They’re actually a result of Hollywood special effects. Using miniatures and force perspective, the cliffs appear to be 200 feet tall but are, in fact, only 24” high. The stairs leading down to the beach are also an ingenious feat of engineering. While a visitor may think they’re walking down many flights, they are actually on a state-of-the-art escalator running in the opposite direction, giving the illusion of traveling a great distance. So next time you take your picture at the “bluffs”, don’t forget that that social post costs millions of dollars to produce.

5– In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, the signal at Southeast Lighthouse is exclusively powered by a combination of fireflies and bioluminescent plankton. Each summer, residents are required to capture 100 fireflies each to replenish the signal light. The task of gathering the plankton is organized by a committee made up of members from the New Shoreham Rotary Club, the Block Island Waders Council, and the Great Salt Pond Scouts. They are captured by hand using specially made plankton nets and stored in habitats that supply their every need. Unfortunately, the glow created by these creatures is not strong enough to make the light useful or even very visible. But the rules are in the town’s bylaws, so what are you going to do?

It’s amazing what you can learn when you peel back the curtain! These are just a few things we’ve discovered. Who knows what other secrets Block Island holds?

April Fools (!) and Sail Away….