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Cape Poge Lighthouse

Cape Poge lighthouse

Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts
Built in 1802



On Chappaquiddick Island on the northeast point of the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, also referred to as Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, it is open for public tours to the lighthouse tower in the summer months, and the refuge itself.

Latitude: 41° 25' 10" N
Longitude: 70° 27' 08" W


Historic Stories:

To help direct traffic with Edgartown's whaling business flourishing in the early 19th century, Congress provided funds to build a lighthouse at Cape Poge in 1802

Matthew Mayhew, the first keeper of the Cape Poge Lighthouse, and his wife Magdalen, were the parents of eight children, several of whom were born while the family lived at the two room lighthouse with one door. Cramped for living space for many years, the Mayhews children sometimes used the windows to enter and exit the structure. They finally had a third room added to the keeper’s house in 1816.

In 1825, Mayhew reported loosing two acres of land at the station due to erosion. The house was moved before it was too late.

Cape Poge light 1844 construction

Cape Poge 1844 Construction
Courtesy US Coast Guard

In December of 1834, Keeper Mayhew suddenly passed away. His successor, Lott Norton, could not reach the station for two weeks due to ice. During this period the schooner Hudson was wrecked at Cape Poge. Several passengers froze to death, including one who died after reaching the lighthouse. It isn't known if the light at Cape Poge was operating at the time of the wreck.

In August 1856, while Daniel Smith was Keeper, a young teenage girl was in a small boat, which was starting to fill with water, was being carried out with the tide. His young son heard the girl's cries for help and quickly grabbed some friends in another boat. They successfully rescued the young girl in time. Her grateful father contacted the Vineyard Gazette and published a note of thanks to the boy and his friends.

During a winter storm in January of 1866, a schooner ran aground on a sandy shoal near the lighthouse. Most of those on board perished from exposure as they clung to the icy rigging. As the storm wore on for days, the destroyed vessel was not recognized for nearly four days after the incident. One man survived, but in surviving with much frostbite, he had to have parts of his hands and feet amputated. He later ran a successful newsstand in nearby Oak Bluffs.

Cape Poge light 1893 tower

Cape Poge 1893 Construction
Courtesy US Coast Guard

Erosion was a constant problem with the lighthouse causing it to be moved a number of times.

The reconstructed 1893 tower was moved first in 1907, then 95 feet inland in 1922, and then in 1960 it was moved back another 150 feet. The tower had to be moved back again about 500 feet from the eroding shoreline in 1987, by helicopter.

The lantern was restored to its near original condition in 1997 and continues to serve as an active navigational aid.

Cape Poge light tower



Places to Visit Nearby:

Edgartown is an upscale town with elegant buildings with architectual flare from the 19th and 20th centuries. To access the lighthouse on the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge on Chappaquiddick Island, vistors can take their vehicles on the ferry known as the "Chappy Ferry" across a tiny water inlet from Edgartown and its brick lined streets to the island. The ride takes about 5 minutes.

chappaquiddic or chappy ferry

Chappy Ferry

Visitors who feel in shape for a 3 1/2-mile hike one way through loose sand can walk to the lighthouse. However, the Cape Poge Trustees of Reservations offers a selection of guided and self-guided tours during the summer season that help visitors explore the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge as well as the historic Cape Poge lighthouse (also referred to as Cape Pogue light, see below).  Expert naturalists lead all guided tours and can meet visitors at the ferry to guide to the reservation.

cape poge nature education



Another option allows visitors to take their own four-wheel drive vehicle to Chappaquiddick Island and drive to Mytoi Gardens, from where the tours start, purchase a permit, and then drive to the lighthouse.


Contact Info:
Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge
Phone: (508) 627-7689


Ferries to Martha's Vineyard

Most of the ferries mentioned don’t pass by the lighthouse, but provide services to get to the island of Martha’s Vineyard. The Chappaquiddick Ferry operates between Edgartown’s Memorial Wharf and Chappaquiddick Island and provides quick service for visitors to explore Cape Poge lighthouse. The Trustees of Reservations provide land-based tours of Cape Poge lighthouse and the local wildlife refuge area. They also promote kayak tours, which are available to get views from the water.


Ferry from New Bedford to Martha’s Vineyard
49 State Pier
New Bedford, MA 02740
(800) 262-8743


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


Island Queen
Ferry from Falmouth, Mass.
297 Dillingham Avenue,
Falmouth, MA 02540.
Phone (508) 548-4800.


Trustees of Reservations:
Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge / Wasque Reservation
Tours of Cape Poge Lighthouse and wildlife refuge area.
Dike Road,
Chappaquiddick Island,
Martha's Vineyard, MA


Chappaquiddick Ferry
Operates between Edgartown Memorial Wharf and Chappaquiddick Island daily, year-round. (508) 627-9427


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


Rhode Island to Martha's Vineyard Fast Ferry
Ferry from Quonset Point, Rhode Island to Oak Bluffs Marina on a high-speed catamaran.
North Kingstown, RI 02852
Phone: 401-295-4040
Fax: 401-295-4930


Island Tours
Bus and trolley tours of the island.
(508) 693-1555
508-627-TOUR (8687)
Charters 508-693-4681


Books to Explore

book of the rise and demise of the largest sailing ships

To order a signed paperback copy:

Available from bookstores in paperback, hardcover, and as an eBook for all devices.

my ebook on apple books

The Rise and Demise of the Largest Sailing Ships:
Stories of the Six and Seven-Masted Coal Schooners of New England

In the early 1900s, New England shipbuilders constructed the world’s largest sailing ships amid social and political reforms. These giants of sail were the ten original six-masted coal schooners and one colossal seven-masted vessel, built to carry massive quantities of coal and building supplies, and measured longer than a football field!

This book, balanced with plenty of color and vintage images, showcases the historical accounts that followed these mighty ships. These true stories include competitions, accidents, battling destructive storms, acts of heroism, and their final voyages.



Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides special human interest stories from each of these 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions, tours, parks, and hiking to explore areas near each lighthouse.

Look inside!


book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England




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