Built in 1872
Located at the end of a jetty midway along the section of a sandbar forming the harbor at Provincetown.
|Latitude: 42° 01' 16" N
||Longitude: 70° 11' 37" W|
Vintage Image Courtesy
US Coast Guard
|Before the lighthouse was built in 1864, day markers were used to guide mariners around the treacherous Wood End Bar and Shank Painter Bar that claimed many vessels and their crews. Despite the construction of three lighthouses around Provincetown, including Wood Island Light as the more recent, shipwrecks would still occur on the treacherous bars.|
One of the worst storms in New England’s history occurred during the Thanksgiving week of 1898, when two storm systems would came together over the New England coast. At Wood End Lighthouse, Keeper Issac G. Fisher had climbed into the lookout tower just before daybreak and saw the morning patrolman from the lifesaving station nearby, Frank C. Wagner, running back towards the lighthouse. Wagner had seen two schooners wrecked offshore a couple of miles down, and informed Keeper Fisher to sound the alarm. The keeper had the surfmen drag the heavy surfboat for hours down to the beach and into the raging surf. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, many hours after the wrecks were initially sighted, they started slowly to make way towards the closest of the schooners, the Jorden L. Mott. There they found 5 members, frozen, but four still alive clinging to the rigging. They were able to rescue the men, but as nightfall approached, and any efforts to attempt a rescue of the other schooner wreck, the Lester A Lewis, would have been fatal for the rescuers as the storm continued in its intensity. It was believed and that all aboard had already perished.
In 1927, just before Christmas, the Navy submarine S-4 and the Coast Guard cutter Paulding collided about a half-mile from Wood Island Light, 40 men perished in the disaster. Three months later, the S-4 was raised and studied to help create better safety measures for future submarines.
The distance of the lighthouse from town would sometimes maroon keepers in inclement weather from getting supplies from the mainland. At the tip of Cape Cod winters were severe and kept the Coast Guard from getting supplies to the station. Keeper Douglas H. Shepherd was trapped at the light for weeks during a severe ice storm in February 1935. Despite his isolation, according to a newspaper report with the keeper afterwards, since the Coast Guard kept him in touch with the mainland, he had no worries.
Places to Visit:
Provincetown is one of the largest artists’ communities in the state with its many cultural events. As one of the international vacationers' capitals, you can find plenty of activities to rent fishing and charter boats, or go on whale watches like Provincetown’s Dolphin Fleet, the Alpha Whale Watch, Captain John’s Boats, or check out local museums or many art galleries. For something out of the ordinary, take one of the Provincetown Ghost Tours.
The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown has the nation’s tallest granite structure at 252 feet with the nearby Provincetown Museum to visit. Provincetown is also the oldest continuous art colony in the country offering an active gallery scene, plus lively nightlife along with many specialty shops and events for tourists who come from around the world.
Visit the Whydah Museum to see real pirate treasure and artifacts from the pirate ship the Whyda which sunk off the coast of Provincetown in 1717. The Whydah is the only verified pirate shipwreck ever discovered.
To reach Wood End lighthouse, you can walk the half-mile long breakwater at First Landing Pilgrim Park, and then hike another three quarters of a mile through sand to the lighthouse. Another option would be to rent a kayak and paddle to the light, but a hike through the sand is still required.
If you enjoy hiking, during low tide, you can hike the sands from Wood Island lighthouse to Long Point lighthouse which is an additional 1 1/2 miles. The round trip to hike to both lighthouses and back to the First Landing Park is about 4 hours. Flyer’s Boat Rental offers kayak rentals and also a direct shuttle to Long Point Lighthouse.
The 33 miles of breathtaking beaches around Provincetown offer plenty of relaxation for tourists to the city. The Cape Cod National Seashore is breathtaking and offers plenty of hiking and biking trails, or beach space for those that want to relax and play.
- Take Route 6 into Provincetown to Commercial Street (Route 6A)
- Take a left onto Commercial Street and follow to the end of the street where you can park near the breakwater
- To reach the lighthouse, you can walk the mile long breakwater during low tide, and then hike another half mile through sand to the lighthouse.
American Lighthouse Foundation
P.O. Box 889
Wells, Maine 04090
Local Boat Tours and Ferries For Visitors
Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below may offer many types of cruises. Some will pass by Wood End Lighthouse from a distance as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, ferrying passengers, whale watching, fishing tours and other types of excursion coming into and going out of Provincetown Harbor.
Plymouth to Provincetown Ferry
You can view Wood End lighthouse from the ferry as it enters Macmillan Wharf in Provincetown.
Mayflower II State Pier
58 Seven Hills Rd
Plymouth, Massachusetts 02360
Phone: (800) 225-4000 or (508) 747-2400
Flyer's Boat Yard
Rents kayaks and also provides shuttle service to Long Point.
131A Commercial Street
Provincetown, Mass. 02657
Bay State Cruises
Ferries from Boston to Provincetown
200 Seaport Blvd.
Boston, Mass. 02210
Dolphin Fleet of Provincetown Whale Watch
Whale watch cruises may pass the lighthouse.
PO Box 1175
Eastham, MA 02642
Phone: (800) 826-9300 or (508) 240-3636
Explore my book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Providing special stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions and tours you can explore.
In this book you'll find local stories from all lighthouses in the Cape Cod region.