August 20, 2016
2693 UNITED STATES (Massachusetts) - Lighthouses of the Cape Cod and Islands
Cape Cod is a geographic cape in the northeastern United States, extending into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeastern corner of mainland Massachusetts, of which is separated by the Cape Cod Canal. Its coastline has been called an "ocean graveyard" from Chatham to Provincetown, a mere fifty-mile stretch of sea containing over 3,000 shipwrecks, due to its dangerously hidden and constantly moving shoals located just off-shore.
Beginning in 1857, lighthouses were erected to serve as beacons to warn ships of the danger. Many of Cape Cod's earliest lighthouses featured a light tower that was attached directly to - and centered on the roof of - the keeper's dwelling. A stairway to the lantern room was accessible only from the top floor of the house. This came to be known as a Cape Cod style lighthouse, yet today, the only fully intact specimens are on the West Coast.
Highland Light (or Cape Cod Light) is the oldest and tallest of these, being built in 1797 on the cliffs of North Truro. In 1857 the lighthouse was demolished, and the current 20m brick tower was constructed. Since then, it has been moved a number of times to save it from toppling off the eroding cliffs into the ocean. The latest move took place in 1996, in an amazing process that involved sliding the 430-ton structure more than 138m along steel beams lubricated with Ivory Soap.
About Sankaty Head Light, located on the Nantucket island, I wrote here. Race Point Light, located in Provincetown, was first established in 1816. The original light was a 7.6m rubblestone tower that featured one of the earliest rotating beacons. In 1875, after significant deterioration of the original tower, it was replaced with an iron tower lined with brick, with a height of 14m. The larger keeper's house was removed in 1960.
Gay Head Light is located in Aquinnah, on the westernmost point of the island of Martha's Vineyard. The original ighthouse, an octagonal wooden tower built on a stone base, was inaugurated in 1799. The existing 16m tall conical brick tower was lit in 1856. Chatham Lighthouse, known as Twin Lights prior to 1923, is located in Chatham, and was established in 1808. To distinguish it from Highland Light, twin octagonal 12m wooden towers were built. The current structures, of brick lined cast iron, were built in 1879.
Edgartown Harbor Light marks the entrance to Edgartown Harbor and Katama Bay, on the island of Martha's Vineyard. The first lighthouse, a two-story wooden structure, was constructed in 1828. It was demolished, and replaced by the current cast-iron tower in 1939. Originally located on an artificial island, it is now surrounded by a beach formed, since 1939, by sand accumulating around the stone causeway connecting it to the mainland.
West Chop Light is located at the entrance of Vineyard Haven Harbor in Tisbury. The first 7.6m rubblestone lighthouse and dwelling were built in 1817. The present 14m tall brick tower and dwelling were built in 1891. About the Brant Point Light, located on Nantucket Island, I wrote here. Nauset Beach Light is located in Eastham, is a cast iron plate shell lined with brick and stands 15m high. It was constructed in 1877 and was originally one of two lights in Chatham, being moved to Eastham in 1923. It was originally all white, but in the 1940s was painted with the red section at the top.
Nobska Light is located at the division between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound in Woods Hole, on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod. It overlooks Martha's Vineyard and Nonamesset Island. The light station was established in 1826, and the current 12m cylindrical tower (iron with brick lining) dates to 1876. Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard are home to 22 majestic lighthouses, one of the highest concentrations of lighthouses anywhere.About the lighthouses located on the Nantucket island I wrote here.
About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the definitives series American Design, about which I wrote here. The second stamp is part of a series featuring 10 images from vintage flower seed packets, about which I wrote here. The third is part of a definitive series with butterflies, about which I wrote here.
Massachusetts Lighthouses - Lighthouse Friends
Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 29.01.2014
Photo: Dick McGee, Sean Mcgee, Buddy Moffet