Built in 1828
The lighthouse overlooks Falmouth Harbor and Woods Hole Harbor. The lighthouse grounds are open year round to the public, and frequent tours are offered inside the lighthouse tower by the Friends of Nobska Light during the summer months.
|Latitude: 41° 30' 57" N
||Longitude: 70° 39' 18" W|
Nobska comes from the early Wampanoag Native Americans, meaning "rocky place" for its terrain and dangerous ledges nearby. Nobska Lighthouse was established in 1828 to guide mariners away from the nearby dangerous shoals when entering into Woods Hole Harbor.
Nobska Light, 1828 Construction
The current structure was built in 1876. The light has the distinction of appearing red from the east, due to a red section on the east side of the lantern house facing the dangerous shoals, while those approaching the western side will see a distinct white light where the more safe waters are.
As part of their duties, keepers were required to track maritime traffic and submit monthly in a “Journal of Vessels”. The volume of traffic going by Nobska was quite significant compared to other lights in the area. In 1829, over 10,000 vessels were recorded passing Nobska Point, and in the month of November in 1864, there were 833 vessels logged in, and on one day alone in 1864, 188 vessels were counted.
Although the light has saved many vessels, sometimes shipwrecks would still occur. In August of 1911, the steamer Bunker Hill headed for Boston carrying over 300 passengers, ran aground on a clear, calm night, luckily resulting in no significant injuries.
Joseph Hindley was the last Keeper of the lighthouse from 1968 to 1972, after 44 total years of total service. It is believed that he was the last civilian lighthouse keeper in New England.
Nobska Light was automated in 1985, and the fourth-order lens is still being used today, using a 1000-watt lamp. The Keeper's house now serves as the quarters for the Commander of the Coast Guard Group of Woods Hole.
Places to Visit Nearby:
|The lighthouse grounds are open year round to the public. This is one of those scenic lighthouses where the best sunset photos can be taken. The Friends of Nobska Light offers frequent tours inside Nobska lighthouse; the grounds are open year round. Occasionally there are tours offered by the Woods Hole Historical Society.|
It is also home of the Woods Hole Oceanic Institution for extensive marine research for all academic levels. At the institution, you will learn about the its ships, underwater robotic vehicles, marine instruments, and oceanographic discoveries such as the RMS Titanic.
Falmouth nearby offers plenty of recreational activities from relaxing on its clean beaches, sailing, to horseback riding. You will also find plenty of artist's galleries, antique shops, and local museums nearby to suite your tastes. The Cahoon Museum of American Art showcases in a colonial farmhouse, collections of the folk paintings of the Cahoons, as well as a choice collections of early and contemporary American art. The Cape Cod Children's Museum has fun exhibits that include a 30 foot pirate ship climbing structure, medieval castle, and inflatable planetarium.
The Schooner Liberté is a magnificent three-masted sailing schooner that departs 3 times a day from Falmouth Harbor and may sail around Wood's Hole, the Elizabeth Islands, or out to Martha's Vineyard, depending on sailing conditions.
Also for the whole family, you can get a hands-on education about marine life with the educational Oceanquest program, here kids participate aboard a converted 60’ fishing vessel, including hauling aboard lobster traps. Various types of nature cruises are also offered.
The Heritage Museums and Gardens include antique and classic cars, a carousel, a military and art museum, and garden trails.
The Coonamessett Farm provides activities like visiting with the animals, picking your own produce, eating homemade foods at the cafe, renting a canoe, or rowing Coonamessett Pond.
Nearby, Woods Hole is a small village that comes alive in the summer with many great eating places, unique shops, galleries, museums, educational institutions and attractions, beautiful gardens and scenic vistas.
The Woods Hole Historical Museum contains all kinds of marine artifacts to explore. The National Marine Fisheries Aquarium is the oldest research aquarium in the country, allows self-guided tours of the main exhibits, with a behind-the-scenes look at aquarium operations. Enjoy tours and wine tasting at The Cape Cod Winery.
The lighthouse is clearly visible from the Woods Hole — Martha’s Vineyard ferries and from the ferry that goes from New Bedford to Martha’s Vineyard.
Directions to Nobska Lighthouse:
- Take Route 28 to Falmouth and then turn south on Shore Street.
- At the end of Shore Street, turn right on Surf Drive to Beach Road.
- Follow Beach Road for a mile and a half to Oyster Pond Road.
- Turn left on Nobska Road and follow to the lighthouse.
You can return to Route 28 another way by taking Church Street from the lighthouse to Woods Hole Road, which leads to Route 28.
From Woods Hole:
The light can also be reached by turning left on Church Street as you near the Steamship Authority terminal.
Friends of Nobska Light
PO Box 183
Falmouth, MA 02541
Local Boat Tours and Ferries
Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below pass by the lighthouse out of Woods Hole Harbor as part of specific lighthouse cruises as part of sailing charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, ferrying passengers, fishing tours and other types of excursions. Views of the lighthouse are at a distance from the boats below as they pass by. Close up views are best by simply walking up to the lighthouse grounds.
Ferry to and from Wood’s Hole and Hyannis to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island
(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
General Offices (508) 548-5011
Liberté, The Schooner
Three-masted sailing schooner departs 3 times a day from Falmouth Harbor, sailing conditions depend on route. Sailing may include around Woods Hole, Elizabeth Islands, or out to Martha's Vineyard, around Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven.
227 Clinton Avenue
Falmouth , MA 02540
Phone: (508) 524-9121
My new book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides lots of special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of additional indoor and outdoor coastal attractions and tours in the area, with contact info to plan your trip. I'll be happy to sign it for you here, or you'll find it in any fine bookstore.
For more info visit my Lighthouse Books page.