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Great Point Lighthouse

great point light

Nantucket, Massachusetts
Built in 1785



Location:

Located on the extreme northeastern tip of Nantucket, in the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. Public access to the tower and surrounding grounds is allowed from the park's Rangers on many of their tours during the summer months.

Latitude: 41° 23' 25" N Longitude 70° 02' 54" W

 

 

Historic Stories:

Great Point Light (also known as Nantucket Light) was built in 1785, to help mariners navigate the passage between Great Point on Nantucket Island and Monomoy Island at Cape Cod. The lighthouse sits several miles up a thin area of beach. When the lighthouse was first built, there was not a keeper’s house built with it for many years until 1825. This forced the early keepers to either walk or get to the station on horseback, which was a distance of seven miles, or they had to use a boat to arrive at Brant Point to get food and supplies. One Keeper, Jonathan Coffin, petitioned directly to the Secretary of the Treasury, and was allowed additional "hardship pay" for making the 7-mile journey.

The original tower was destroyed by fire in 1816, a new stone tower was built in 1818, and in 1857 the lighthouse was furnished with a Fresnel lens and an Assistant Keeper's building.

Between 1863 and 1890 there were 43 wrecks near the lighthouse due many believe, to confusion with the Cross Rip Lightship nearby.

On September 23, 1931, Keeper Chase and Assistant Keeper Walsh at Great Point saved the crew of the fishing schooner Elizabeth Foley when the vessel caught fire two miles from the light.

great point early construction

Great Point Light,
1818 Stone Tower Construction
Courtesy US Coast Guard

In March 1984, a severe storm destroyed the 1818 constructed lighthouse. In 1986 with the help of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, enough federal money was set aside for the building of a new Great Point Lighthouse, 300 yards west of the site of the old tower.

 

New England Lighthouses

 

Places to Visit Nearby:

Those who are adventurous, you will find the south shore beaches inviting. These southern shore beaches face the open ocean and provide the most dramatic surf. Be wary as these beaches can have dangerous rip tides. Cisco Beach and Surfside Beach are popular with surfers. The eastern shore beaches are usually ones that are off the beaten path where you would need a permit, like the Great Point and Coatue beaches at Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, where Great Point Lighthouse is located. Kayakers, and those who may want to learn to windsurf, frequent Pocomo Beach.

It's nearly impossible to visit Great Point Lighthouse without arriving by boat or 4-wheel drive vehicle. During the summer months the Trusties of Reservations offer tours of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge where a naturalist guide will lead you on an over-sand vehicle tour through the salt marsh to learn about the geology, ecology, and history of the area and, then you get to climb Great Point Lighthouse tower for some spectacular views. This is such a great tour and I guarantee you'll be glad you went and explored this area.

 

 

Directions:

 

 

Contact Info:
Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge
Wauwinet Road
Wauwinet, Nantucket, MA
Phone: (508) 228-5646
E-mail: islands@ttor.org

 

Ferries and Tours to Nantucket Island

Most of the cruises mentioned below involve ferry service to take visitors to the islands from either the main land or between the islands. Most of the ferries mentioned don’t pass by the lighthouse, but provide services to get to Nantucket Island.

 

Hy-Line Cruises
Hyannis-Oak Bluffs ferry; also Nantucket-Oak Bluffs ferry.
220 Ocean Street Dock
Hyannis, Massachusetts 02601
Information: (508) 778-2600
Oak Bluffs (508) 693-0112
Hyannis-Nantucket ferry (508) 778-2602

 

 

Steamship Authority
Ferries to both islands
Vehicle Reservations Call: (508) 477-8600
Office Hours or (508) 693-9130
Fast Ferry Reservations: (508) 495-FAST (3278)
Woods Hole: (508) 548-3788
Vineyard Haven: (508) 693-0367
Oak Bluffs: (508) 693-0125
Hyannis: (508) 771-4000
Nantucket: (508) 228-0262

 

 

Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge
Tours of great Point Lighthouse and the wildlife refuge area.
Wauwinet Road,
Wauwinet, Nantucket, MA 02554
508-228-5646

 

 

Freedom Cruise Line
Ferry from Harwich Port Mass. to Nantucket
702 Main Street - Route 28
Harwich Port, Massachusetts 02646
(508) 432-8999

 

Captain Tobey’s Native Water Taxi
Tours to Great Point Lighthouse
PO Box 132
Nantucket MA, 02554
(508) 221-1059
captain@tobeyleskeinc.com

 

Nantucket Island Tours

Ara’s Tours
Offers guided van tours around Nantucket Island.
Nantucket MA 02584
(508) 221-6852
ara@arastours.com

 

Gail’s Tours
Offers guided van tours around Nantucket Island.
Box 3270,
Nantucket MA 02584
(508) 257-6557

 

 

My book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions and tours you can explore.

Explore this 300-page book where you'll find over 360 photos and map illustrations, with plenty of stories and things to do around each lighthouse. Great Point light is on the cover too!

Look inside!

 

 

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