This lighthouse gets its name from the language used by the Wampanoag people, who were the indigenous people that originally inhabited the island of Nantucket. These people named this area “sankoty,” which means “highland.” The construction made of brick and granite stands on the bluff at the end of what is now Baxter Road in Siasconset. It has a height of 70 feet.
The sturdy lighthouse was constructed in 1850 and has not been replaced since then. Since its construction more than 160 years ago, the Sankaty Head Lighthouse has served its purpose as an operational assistance to navigation. The light may be seen for a distance of 25 miles out at sea, completing one rotation every 7.5 seconds. In 1933, the lighthouse was equipped with electric lighting, and in 1965, it was completely automated.
After examining the building in 1990, the United States Army Corps of Engineers made an incorrect prognosis, stating that within the next decade, it would tumble off of a neighboring sea cliff.
Between 1894 and 1999, the cliff located next to the lighthouse lost 195 feet due to erosion and storms. Since 1999, the bluff has been eroding at a rate of around three feet per year on average. By the year 2006, the distance between the lighthouse and the cliff’s edge was 72 feet.
In 2007, the ‘Sconset Trust obtained possession of the 405-ton lighthouse, which was just 68 feet from the cliff’s edge at the time. In October of 2007, the Trust commenced the project of moving the lighthouse 405 feet to the northwest of its original location. At present, the lighthouse is located 267 feet away from the edge of the cliff.
Although visitors are not permitted inside the tower, they can tour the grounds at any time during the year. The site provides a stunning panorama of the expansive moors on the island and the vast Atlantic Ocean.