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The 3 Must-Visit Lighthouses in Nantucket
September 19, 2022
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There are several interesting places to visit on Nantucket for a fun stay. These include beaches, wildlife refuges, restaurants, and museums. There are also three major historical sites on Nantucket that you should not miss out on; the Great Point lighthouse, Brand Point lighthouse, and Sankaty Lighthouse.

In this article, we will provide you with a brief historical overview of the lighthouses and why they are worth your time.

Great Point Lighthouse

Great Point Lighthouse

This lighthouse was built in 1784 in the northernmost part of Nantucket. At that time, it was made of wood. Later, in 1816, it was destroyed by fire, necessitating building another in 1818. This time it was built of stone. Unfortunately, it only lasted till March 1984, when a storm destroyed it. It was then rebuilt in 1986 and has been operational ever since.

Great Point Lighthouse has a 60-foot tower. It is located past Wauwinet, within the coastal wild reserve. Since it is in the far north of the island, the lighthouse helps mariners navigate the waters around the island, whereby it flashes every five seconds.

Unfortunately, it is not included in the National Register of Historic Sites. For a site to be included, it must have been operational for at least 50 years. Because of this policy, its status was revoked when it was reconstructed for the second time.

If you don’t mind a seven-mile sand walk, you can easily access the Great Point Lighthouse on Nantucket by foot. Alternatively, take a four-wheel-drive vehicle that has a beach permit sticker.

However, you are likely to find it uncomfortable driving on soft sand. Instead, taking an oversand car with a guide will come in handy.

The Sankaty Head Lighthouse

The Sankaty Head Lighthouse

It was constructed in 1850 in the village of Siasconset, on the island’s most eastern tip. This lighthouse helped mariners navigate the eastern coast’s shoals, which had proven to be dangerous.

The lighthouse is 70 feet tall; the bottom part is made up of bricks and the upper granite.

Heavy brass clockwork fueled the illumination mechanism at Sankaty Head Lighthouse. Next to the lighthouse was a house, home to the navigator’s family. It had to be completely torn away and the new one was finished in the beginning of 1888.

The tower was then renovated in that same year. A new lantern section was installed, which increased the tower’s height by ten feet.

Between 1894-1999, there were massive storms and sedimentation. As a result, 195 feet of the cliff were destroyed close to the lighthouse.

The cliff has been stripping away at a rate of about three feet yearly since 1999. In 2006, the lighthouse was 72 feet from the cliff’s edge. Then in 2007, the Sconset Trust took custody of the 405-ton lighthouse. It was 68 feet from the cliff’s edge.

The Trust relocated the Lighthouse 405 feet towards the northwest from its initial location. Currently, the lighthouse stands at 267 feet from the bluff’s edge. Sankaty Head Lighthouse flashes every 7.5 seconds and can be seen up to 25 miles away.

It started being powered by electricity in 1933 and was finally automated in 1965.

The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Sites in 1987.

Brant Point Lighthouse

Brant Point Lighthouse

It was constructed in 1746 and automated in 1965. Brant Point Lighthouse is the 10th lighthouse in that same place. Towers constructed previously either burned down or were blown by the wind, condemned, or fell because of poor construction. The current structure has been in place for over 110 years.

Most tourists are familiar with the lighthouse since it ushers people in and out of the island. Usually, visitors toss a coin into the waters around it to commemorate their visit and ensure a comeback when leaving.

This Lighthouse is America’s second-oldest lighthouse. It’s only 26 feet tall, making it America’s shortest lighthouse.

However, do not underestimate it. The lighthouse is small but invaluable. The red light flashes every four seconds, and you can see it from a distance of up to ten miles.

In 1987, Brant Point Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Final Word

If the Great Point, Brand Point, and Sankaty Head lighthouses aren’t already on your travel wish list, they should be. They are historical sites that you will be glad you visited.