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East Chop Lighthouse

East Chop lighthouse

Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts
Built in 1878


Located on Telegraph Hill northwest of Oak Bluffs, on Highland Drive.

Latitude: 41° 28' 13" N
Longitude: 70° 34' 03" W


Historic Stories:

In 1869, with the booming whaling business, there was definite need for a light to guide mariners coming into Vineyard Haven Harbor. Silas Daggett took it upon himself to build a beacon at East Chop located on Telegraph Hill overlooking the harbor. He operated it privately for seven years, receiving help and donations from local merchants for the upkeep of the light.

The lighthouse burned down in 1871, but the tenacious Dagget rebuilt the light on top of his house.

In 1878, Daggett sold the property on Telegraph Hill for the government to build a conical cast-iron lighthouse tower, along with a keeper's house.

vintage image of East Chop light

East Chop Light,
Original Cast Iron Tower
Courtesy US Coast Guard

George Purdy was keeper in the 1920s and 1930s. He was a former lobsterman who had lost an arm in an accident in the engine room of the lighthouse tender Azalea and was famous for his ability to maintain the lighthouse and its constant upkeep and cleanliness with only one arm. After the light was automated in 1933, the Coast Guard wanted to rent the lighthouse to Purdy for $100 a month, but he refused, so the keeper's house was removed.

In 1994, the license given to the town of Oak Bluffs in 1954, was transferred to the Martha's Vineyard Museum.



Places to Visit Nearby:

East Chop Light is located on Telegraph Hill, on the high bluffs near the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. Oak Bluffs is a charming town that was settled in the later 1800's, with many well-preserved Victorian cottages and boasts as having one of the oldest merry-go-rounds in the country. It also is known for having one of the oldest merry-go-rounds in the country, the Flying Horses Carousel. The carousel is taken care of by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust and has been fully restored. Take a stroll around Ocean Park, which is surrounded by Victorian era buildings, or explore around Oak Bluffs Marina and watch the boats come in.

gingerbread cottages on Martha's Vineyard When exploring Oak Bluffs, look for the colorful cottages that look like gingerbread houses, all privately owned.

Lighthouse tours, including sunset tours, are offered in the summer by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

Visit the Island Alpaca Farm to see these unique animals.



Alternate Directions:


Contact Info:
Martha’s Vineyard Museum
P.O. Box 1310
59 School Street
Edgartown, MA 02539
Phone: (508) 627-4441


Martha's Vineyard Ferries and Tours For Visitors

Most of the cruises mentioned below involve ferry service to take visitors to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island, and between the islands. They don’t pass by the lighthouse.


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.


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


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 fiercely competed to construct the eleven world’s largest sailing ships amid social and political reforms. These giants of sail were 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 each of these mighty ships. You'll find many of these events occurred while sailing around the dangerous shoals of Cape Cod and the islands during stormy weather.



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 to explore.

Look inside!

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England




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