TFW Google Celebrates Ida Lewis

ida lewis google doodle

This Google Doodle celebrates lighthouse keeperess Ida Lewis of Newport. Today would have been her 175th birthday.

How cool is this? Today’s Google Doodle is dedicated to Ida Lewis, famous lighthouse keeperess of Newport. Google Doodles are the frequent changes made to Google’s logo to celebrate “holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists,” according to the company.

Idawalley Zorada Lewis, known as Ida, kept the Lime Rock lighthouse, located at what is now the yacht club bearing her name. She was best known for saving soldiers and others who fell into the icy harbor, though few of her specific rescues are documented. Ida, who was born in Newport in 1842, made her first rescue at age 12 and continued as our harbor’s guardian angel until she was 63. Today would have been her 175th birthday.

Ida was hardy. She took over the responsibilities of the lighthouse after her father had a stroke, cared for him and an ill sister, rowed her younger siblings to school every weekday, and was considered Newport’s best swimmer. Every night at sundown and again at midnight, she’d fill the light house’s lamp with oil, “trimming the wick, polishing the carbon off the reflectors, extinguishing the light at dawn,” according to Ida Lewis Yacht Club.

Ida_Lewis newport ri line drawing

The broader world began to take note; Ida was written up in Harper’s Weekly and The New York Tribune and was honored in an Independence Day Parade in Newport. In the winter of 1881, she rescued two soldiers who had fallen through the ice (Newport Harbor used to freeze over frequently back then) walking from town back to the southern side of town. President Ulysses S. Grant learned of her bravery, and awarded her the prestigious Gold Lifesaving Medal. The Google Doodle depicts this story in a series of wonderful, stylized drawings.

In 1924, 11 years after Ida’s death, Lime Rock Lighthouse was renamed Ida Lewis Lighthouse in her honor. Today, she remains a local legend and hero; we’re pretty stoked Google commemorated her in this way.

Meaghan O'Neill is a writer, editor, blogger wrangler, and the founder of Puddingstone Post. She was formerly editor-in-chief of TreeHugger, Discovery Channel online, and TLC's Parentables. Her writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications, and her book, Ready, Set, Green: 8 Weeks to Modern Eco-Living (Villard/Random House) was published in 2008. She lives in Newport, RI with her family.

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