THE LIGHTHOUSES OF CAPE ANN
Five iconic lighthouses have been built along the Cape Ann coastline to protect seafarers from rocky shores and shoals. They offer historians and romantics alike a glimpse into Cape Ann’s maritime lore and legacy. Lighthouses are a comfort to mariners to this day, and despite the use of GPS and electronic aids they still symbolize home and safety.
straitsmouth island lighthouse
Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse (Straitsmouth Light) was built in 1835 to mark the entrance to nearby Rockport Harbor. The present brick lighthouse was built in 1896 with a height of 37 feet and a focal plane of 46 feet. The relatively small lighthouse is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, but the island itself is owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society as a bird and wildlife sanctuary.
EASTERN POINT lighthouse
white light flashing every 5 seconds
Eastern Point Lighthouse was erected on Gloucester’s Eastern Point to mark the harbor entrance in 1832. The current brick tower was built in 1890 and is 36 feet tall with a focal plane of 56 feet. In addition to the light, there is a large lighthouse station, which continues to serve as housing for the U.S. Coast Guard. One of the station’s more famous occupants was Winslow Homer. The noted artist spent a year living at the light in 1880.
Eastern Point Light is easily reached by following Eastern Point Boulevard to its end.
ten pound island lighthouse
equal interval red light every 6 seconds
This quaint lighthouse is located on Ten Pound Island within Gloucester Harbor. The light was constructed in 1821 to mark the island and act as a marker for navigating Gloucester’s inner harbor. Rebuilt in 1881 of cast iron with brick lining, the tower is 30 feet tall with a focal point of 56 feet. The island is easily visible from many locations along Gloucester’s waterfront. Tiny Ten Pound Island boasts housing America’s first coast guard station. The light has recently been completely restored by the Lighthouse Preservation Society.
ANNISQUAM HARBOR lighthouse
WHITE light FLASHING every 7.5 seconds WITH RED SECTOR
Annisquam Harbor Lighthouse (Annisquam Light) was erected in 1801 to mark the entrance to the Annisquam River at Wigwam Point, a popular Native American summer encampment. The river connected Ipswich Bay to Gloucester Harbor following the construction of the Blynman Canal. Annisquam Light’s wooden frame was replaced with the existing 41 foot brick tower, focal plane of 45 feet, in 1897. The quaint lighthouse is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard and is accessible from the nearby village of Annisquam in Gloucester.
Although there has been limited access to the light station in the past, there is no longer public access. The road to the lighthouse is private and there is no parking. Annisquam Light may be viewed from Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester across the Annisquam River.
THACHER ISLAND TWIN lighthouseS (TWIN LIGHTS)
ROCKPORT – a national historic landmark
WHITE light FLASHING 5 times at 20 second intervals
Also known as Cape Ann Light Station, the Twin Lights are the only surviving multiple lights on the coasts of the United States. The original 45-foot towers were constructed and lit in (1771 or 1789), making them among the oldest of America’s lighthouses. The stout 124-foot granite towers (with a focal plane of 166 feet) seen today replaced the original lights in 1861. The two towers, North and South, were constructed and placed so that when a ship sights on both towers, they point to true north, allowing sailors to check and adjust their compasses.
Thacher Island is located about a mile offshore of Rockport. The island may be viewed from several locations in Rockport and Gloucester, including Loblolly Cove and Pebble Beach.
The Thacher Island Association provides a free boat service from Rockport Harbor to the island during the Summer, with advance reservations. For more information go to www.thacherisland.org