Archive for September, 2016

Cape Cod Lighthouses: An Enduring Symbol of Safety

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

With even the most basic ocean-going boats now having onboard radar, the practical purposes of many of the lighthouses on Cape Cod is waning yet millions of dollars have been spent moving the lighthouses of Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, inland away from our eroding shores. We’re not sure if it’s the history or the romance, or a simple fascination with them, but our lighthouses have been deemed worth preserving and, for that, we’re so thankful!

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Nauset Light in Eastham.

The four most well-known lighthouses on Cape Cod are Nobska Light, Chatham Lighthouse, Nauset Light and Highland Light. Both Nobska Light, in Falmouth, and Nauset Light, in Eastham, have been decommissioned and are no longer used for navigational purposes.

Nobska Light, originally built in 1826 with the current structure erected in 1876, was decommissioned in 2015 and is now owned by the Town of Falmouth. Four nonprofit organizations have undertaken its renovation. Once complete, a museum and lighthouse tour will be available to the public free of charge.

Nauset Light, originally built in 1877 as one of two lighthouses in Chatham and then moved to Eastham in 1923, was decommissioned in 1995 and is now leased from the Coast Guard by the nonprofit Nauset Light Preservation Society. In 1996, the organization funded the successful relocation of Nauset Light when it was moved inland more than 300 feet to its current location. It is Nauset Light which Cape Cod Potato Chips uses as its logo, and is featured on the snack makers packaging turning the lighthouse into a national icon. Just around the corner from Nauset Light are the Three Sisters; three small, wooden lighthouses which were moved from Nauset Light’s original location and are now owned by the National Park Service. Tours are offered on select dates.

Chatham Lighthouse continues to serve as a US Coast Guard Station and critical navigational aid for boaters off Chatham’s notoriously dangerous shore which was depicted in the 2015 film, The Finest Hours. Because it is still a secure government facility, it is open for tours on just a handful of days throughout the year. While the tour dates are somewhat sporadic, the view of the lighthouse and of the beach far below are spectacular every day of the year.

Lighthouses on Cape Cod continue to protect mariners during storms.

Lighthouses on Cape Cod continue to protect mariners during storms.

If you’ve come here seeking Cape Cod lighthouse tours, your best bet is Highland Light in Truro which offers tours daily from May through late October. Highland Light, owned by Cape Cod National Seashore with an automated light maintained by the US Coast Guard, is the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod. It was originally commissioned by George Washington in 1797. The original wooden structure was replaced by a brick one in 1833 with the current 66-foot-tall brick structure built in 1857. Like Nauset Light, Highland Light was moved inland from its original position when it was in danger of falling into the sea due to beach erosion.  A small gift shop and museum are now located in what had been the keeper’s cottage. Tours of the lighthouse, led by learned locals, include climbing the spiral staircase into the top of the tower which offers unsurpassed views of the Atlantic Ocean.

For additional information on these Cape Cod lighthouses and several others, along with the tour schedules of each – including Nobska Light, Chatham Lighthouse and Nauset Light – please visit: