Cape Cod Lighthouses are an icon of Cape Cod. When you think of the Cape, what comes to mind? Perhaps its the miles of unspoilt beaches along the National Seashore to explore, or our world famous Wellfleet oysters, a homemade bowl of creamy clam chowder or fresh lobster? The Cape’s history is full of sailors stories, numerous shipwrecks and heroic rescues, so for many there is a romantic image of our lighthouses. With 14 lighthouses on the Cape, we always suggest that our guests visit some and just imagine if the lighthouses could talk, the stories they could tell. And as we move into the Fall, what better time to visit, here are six of our local favorites.
Just a short 20 minute ride from the Inn, the drive includes a glorious run through Pleasant Bay. Just before reaching the Lighthouse stop off at the Chatham Fish Pier and watch the trawlers offload their catch.
Almost 200 years ago, President Thomas Jefferson, appointed the first keeper of a lard-burning lighthouse to safely guide ships past Chatham. The present day lighthouse boasts an electric beacon and overlooks a beautiful ocean beach.
Chatham Lighthouse, known as Twin Lights before 1923, is in Chatham, MA near the “elbow” of Cape Cod. The original station was built in 1808 with two wooden towers that were replaced in 1841 even though there were questions as to why one tower would not be adequate.
Today, the former light keeper’s house is a U.S. Coast Guard station, and on-duty personnel living quarters. Search and Rescue, maritime law, and Homeland Security missions are carried out here.
The recent Disney movie, “The Finest Hour“, tells the story of a heroic rescue from the Coast Guard Station in the fifties, after a tanker had run aground during a ferocious storm off the Cape.
None other than President George Washington signed the bill on May 17, 1796, approving $8,000 for the construction of Cape Cod’s first lighthouse, Highland Light. Only the seventh to be constructed by the U.S. Government, it was situated on ten acres on the Highlands of North Truro and was usually the first light seen when approaching the entrance of Massachusetts Bay from Europe. Although Highland Lighthouse is officially known as Cape Cod Lighthouse, it remains “Highland” to locals. It is the oldest and tallest lighthouse on Cape Cod.
The grounds are open year-round and the light is open to from May – October, with guided tours available.
As early as 1808, Provincetown’s residents asked for a lighthouse at Race Point. Travel was treacherous for vessels negotiating the bars near Race Point at Cape Cod’s northern tip. Race Point Lighthouse Three Sisters Lightwas first lighted on November 5, 1816.
By 1876, the old stone “tower” needed rebuilding, and was replaced by a 45-foot cast-iron lighthouse, lined with brick. The Fresnel lens was also installed. Today, the Race Point LightHouse optic is still an active aid to navigation, maintained by the Coast Guard.
An 1836 petition by Eastham residents concerned about loved ones at sea caused the Boston Marine Society to recommend to the United States Congress the construction of the Nauset Lights. Congress granted $10,000, and the contract was awarded to Winslow Lewis, the lowest bidder at $6549.
Three 15-foot high masonry towers were built. The lights soon gained the nickname “The Three Sisters” because from sea they looked like women in white dresses with black hats.
Also known as Harding’s Beach Lighthouse, the Stage Harbor Lighthouse is one of the most noticeable landmarks in this area. It is the youngest lighthouse in Cape Cod having been built in 1880. It was discontinued in 1933 when it was replaced by a 200 foot skeleton tower which remains an active aid to navigation.
Today, the lighthouse is a private property and therefore, it is not open to the public. However, you can get the best views from Harding’s Beach in Chatham. From this point, you will see some of the amazing architectural work that is the lighthouse.
Nauset Lighthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located just 14 miles from the Inn in Eastham. Made of cast iron with brick lining, the light stands 48 feet high. Coastal erosion meant that by 1996 it was dangerously close to the edge of the cliff. Less than 35 feet remained in November 1996 when Nauset Lighthouse was moved in one piece approximately 300 feet to a new site across the road.
Tours are available in summer from the Nauset Light Preservation Society which operates, maintains and interprets the site.
The Parsonage Inn is just minutes from both the ocean and bayside beaches. The Inn is opposite one of the best Farm shops on the Cape, close to gorgeous local gift shops, restaurants and the highly rated Sundae School ice cream . Each of our rooms are individually appointed and we offer a delicious organic breakfast each morning.
Reserve your room today, we look forward to welcoming you to Orleans Cape Cod soon. Enjoy!!