CAPE ANN LIGHTHOUSES

 

 

 

There are six lighthouses on Cape Ann, three of which can be seen from the Captain’s House. Below are brief histories of the six Cape Ann lighthouses, with links to more information. 

 

 

 

 

 

Thacher Island lighthouses: White light flashing five times at 20 second intervals

The twin lights of Thacher Island are the only surviving multiple-lights on the coasts of the United States and can be clearly seen from the Captain’s House. The Island is named for the Rev. Anthony Thacher who, on the night of August 14, 1635, was shipwrecked there. Of the 21 people on board, including his four children, only the minister and his wife were saved. The original 45-foot towers were constructed and lit in 1771—making them among the oldest of America's lighthouses. They were the last built under British rule and the first in the US built to mark a dangerous spot; previous lighthouses marked harbor entrances. The 124 foot granite towers seen today were built in 1861. Though there are many spurious explanations as to why two lights were built on the same island, the real reason is that prior to the development of revolving lenses and blinking patterns, it distinguished them from other lighthouses. During summer months, the island is open to visitors and a small shuttle operates from Rockport harbor. 

(more info here)

 

 

 

Straitsmouth Island lighthouse: Green light flashing every six seconds

By the 1820s, Rockport was an important center of granite production and in 1835 a 19-foot lighthouse was built on Straitsmouth Island to direct vessels to the harbor at Pigeon Cove for granite loading. A second purpose of the lighthouse was to guide vessels through the narrow channel between Straitsmouth Island and the rocks known as the Salvages to the Northeast. Unfortunately the tower was situated about 500 feet out of position and several vessels were lost in storms in the 1830s and '40s. In 1850 a 24-foot octagonal stone tower was built at the northeast point of the island—where it had been intended in the first place—to replace the original. The present 37-foot brick lighthouse replaced the 1850 tower in 1896. The island, including the keeper's house, was donated to the Massachusetts Audubon Society (MAS) in 1967 as a preserve for wildlife—principally seabirds. In July 2009, ownership of the lighthouse, which is visible from the Captain’s House, passed to the Thacher Island Association. There is no boat landing on the island, and since the island is the property of MAS, landing may not be permitted. However, some adventurous folks have been seen landing kayaks on a small beach near the lighthouse.

(more info here)

 

 

Eastern Point lighthouse: White light flashing every 5 seconds

Eastern Point lighthouse, at the entrance to Gloucester Harbor, is at the foot of a spectacular 2,250’ breakwater and close to Eastern Point Yacht Club. The origin of the lighthouse was a day marker placed at Eastern Point in 1829. A stone lighthouse, 30 feet high, was erected in 1832 at a cost of $2,450 to help fishermen and others entering Gloucester Harbor. With the arrival of the railroad in Gloucester in 1847 the fishing business exploded into one of the world's largest, and Eastern Point Light assumed new importance. A new 34-foot lighthouse was built in 1848. The two-story duplex house that still stands at the station was built in 1879 and the oil house survives from 1894. The garage and fog signal buildings were built in 1947 and 1951 respectively and the breakwater was built for $300,000 between 1894 and 1905. The Coast Guard has retained the station for housing and two families live in the duplex house. Eastern Point Light remains an active aid to navigation; there's a parking lot at the station, but the grounds are closed to the public. You can walk on the breakwater for excellent views of the lighthouse.

(more info here)

 

 

 

Ten Pound Island Lighthouse: Equal interval red light every 6 seconds


The lighthouse on Ten Pound Island in was built in 1821 to help mariners find their way into Gloucester's inner harbor, and to help them avoid a dangerous ledge to the southwest of the island. (The name of the island likely refers to the number of sheep pens—or pounds—on the island at one time). The lighthouse was a 20’ conical tower with a fixed white light. In the summer of 1880, the great American artist Winslow Homer boarded with the lighthouse keeper. That summer Homer painted about 50 scenes of Gloucester Harbor, some of which included the lighthouse. A new 30-foot cast-iron lighthouse tower, lined with brick, was built in 1881 along with a new wood frame keeper's house. In 1956, Ten Pound Island Light was decommissioned. In the late 1980s, the Lighthouse Preservation Society initiated the restoration of the lighthouse which took over two years to complete. The light was relit as an active aid to navigation on August 7, 1989 in a ceremony complete with fireworks. Ten Pound Island Light can be seen from many points along the Gloucester waterfront, including the area around the famous fisherman statue on Stacey Boulevard. Closer views are available from tour boats that pass through the harbor.

(more info here)

 

Annisquam Harbor Lighthouse: White light flashing every 7.5 seconds with red sector

The name Annisquam is a combination of the word squam—the local Indians' word for harbor—and Ann, for Cape Ann. Annisquam village grew up on the east side of the river's northern end beginning in 1631. The village grew into a fishing and shipbuilding center that rivaled Gloucester Harbor in its early days. Also, the Annisquam River was considered an important harbor of refuge for vessels traveling along the coast. In April 1800 congress appropriated $2,000 for a lighthouse at Wigwam Point, the northwesterly point of Annisquam village. The first lighthouse was a 32-foot wooden tower, showing a fixed white light 40 feet above the water. A new 40-foot octagonal wooden lighthouse tower was built in 1851. The original keeper's house was repaired and still stands today, enlarged and altered over the years. The present 41-foot cylindrical brick lighthouse tower was built in 1897, on the same foundation as the previous two towers. The lighthouse was automated in 1974. A Coast Guard family lives at the station; some tour boats from Gloucester pass Annisquam Light, and it can also be seen from Wingaersheek Beach.

(more info here)