Chatham Lighthouse is a historic structure on Cape Cod in Chatham, Massachusetts. The lighthouse was first established in 1808 and has helped mariners navigate for over 200 years.
Chatham, with 66 miles of shoreline, is the only Cape Cod community bounded on three sides by water. Around Chatham is Pleasant Bay to the north, Nantucket Sound to the south, and the open Atlantic Ocean to the east. Cape Cod’s coastline is presumed to be responsible for over 3500 wrecked vessels (1850-1980). Those who have sailed close to the Chatham shores tell of ghostly images that enticed ships to what appeared to be safety, only to have their dreams crushed against the Cape’s rugged shores.
The original Chatham station, which consisted of two wooden towers, was built in 1808 to aid mariners in navigation. Both of these towers deteriorated rapidly and were replaced in 1841. In 1877, two new towers made of cast iron rings were built to replace them. These towers both stood 40 feet tall. In 1923, one of the towers was relocated to the Eastham area and renamed Nauset Light.
The former keeper’s house is now an active US Coast Guard station with living quarters for on-duty personnel. Missions such as search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, and homeland security are carried out here. This station is home to Flotilla 11-01 of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. The lighthouse can be easily viewed and tours of the lighthouse are offered on select days throughout the year. The lighthouse was registered as a National Historic Place on June 15, 1987.
Fun Fact! The Chatham Lighthouse appears in the film The Finest Hours, which depicts the US Coast Guard’s rescue of the SS Pendleton off the coast of Chatham in 1952. The Coast Guard’s Gold Lifesaving Medal was awarded to all four members of the crew.
Looking for more amazing spots to explore in Massachusetts? Be sure to check out the official GoXplr Massachusetts Map at goxplr.com/map/massachusetts!
- Originally constructed: 1808
- Current tower constructed: 1877
- First lit: 1877 (current structure)
- Construction: Cast iron plate with brick lining
- Tower shape: Conical
- Height: 48 feet (14.5 m)
- Focal height: 80 feet (24 m)
- Markings: White with gray lantern
- Characteristic: Fl (2) W 10s, lighted continuously
- Range: 24 nautical miles (44 km; 28 mi)
- Status: Active
- NRHP number: 87001501
- Address: 37 Main St
- Town: Chatham
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: Lat 41.67135 Lng -69.94989
- Parking notes: There are 44 parking spots located at the Lighthouse Overlook which is free for 30 minutes. Parking violations are strictly enforced at the overlook. If you’re looking to stay the day at the lighthouse, you can purchase a Chatham beach pass and parking on Bridge Street.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE
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