Falmouth, Massachusetts

Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse off Falmouth, Massachusetts. The lighthouse was named for President Grover Cleveland.

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@travis_warren123 (Flickr)

About This Location

Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse: Guiding Ships Through History

Nestled off the coast of Falmouth, Massachusetts, on the eastern side of Cleveland Ledge, stands the historic Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse. This iconic structure has long served as a guiding light for mariners navigating the waters near Cape Cod Canal, marking the entrance to this vital waterway. With its rich history and unique characteristics, the lighthouse remains an important maritime landmark to this day.

The Necessity of Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse:

The placement of Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse was necessitated by the expanding maritime traffic in Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal. The canal, completed in 1916, became a crucial shortcut for vessels of all sizes, facilitating travel between Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay. As larger ships began to utilize the canal, the need for navigational aids in the area became apparent.

Located approximately two miles from the nearest shore, Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse was positioned to mark the southern entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. It served as the first fixed navigational mark when traveling northbound through the canal, playing a pivotal role in guiding vessels safely through these waters, especially during periods of fog or limited visibility.

Establishment and Associated Structures:

Construction of Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse took place between 1940 and 1943, following the re-dredging of Cape Cod Canal in the late 1930s. The lighthouse was built atop a caisson, which measures 52 feet in diameter. This caisson not only forms the foundation for the lighthouse but also houses the lighthouse's engine room.

The lighthouse itself comprises three levels. The first two floors serve as living and working quarters, while the cylindrical concrete tower rises another 50 feet above. A fourth-order Fresnel lens originally occupied the lantern room atop the tower. The lighthouse is perched on the edge of the ledge, creating an iconic and picturesque maritime image.

Lightkeepers and Automation:

Initially, the lighthouse was manned by a four-person Coast Guard crew when it was first commissioned in June 1943. These dedicated keepers were responsible for ensuring the light and foghorn operated effectively, especially during adverse weather conditions. However, in 1978, the laying of an underwater cable led to the automation of the lighthouse, reducing the need for a crew.

Lighthouse Specifications:

Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse stands as a unique example of Art Moderne architecture, a distinctive style not commonly associated with lighthouses. Its construction consists of reinforced concrete, with the cylindrical tower atop a square dwelling. The lighthouse reaches a height of 69 feet, with a focal height of 74 feet above sea level. Its exterior is marked by a white tower, a red-brown caisson, and a black lantern. The lighthouse emits a flashing white light every 10 seconds, with a range of 15 nautical miles.

National Register of Historic Places:

Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places as "Cleveland Ledge Light Station" on September 14, 1987, with the reference number 87001462. This designation recognizes the lighthouse's historical significance and its contribution to the maritime heritage of the region.

Current Ownership and Maintenance:

Ownership of Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse changed hands in 2010 when it was sold to Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse, LLC, following an auction. The lighthouse's new owner, Sandy Boyd of Emeryville, California, is in the process of converting it into a vacation home. Boyd's plans may also include opening the lighthouse for overnight stays, allowing lighthouse enthusiasts to experience its unique charm.

Visiting Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse:

The lighthouse is located miles offshore so no parking is available at the tower. On clear days, it can be seen from the mainland though. One of the best viewpoints from shore is Old Silver Beach in Falmouth. It is best to be viewed from boat.

As of the most recent available information, the details regarding public access to Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse may vary due to its ongoing conversion into a vacation home. Visitors interested in exploring the lighthouse or staying overnight should contact the current owner or local authorities for the latest information on access, tours, and accommodations.

Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse stands as a testament to the vital role played by navigational aids in the maritime history of the United States. With its distinct architecture, rich history, and ongoing preservation efforts, this lighthouse continues to shine as a symbol of safety and guidance for mariners in the waters off Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Lighthouse Specs
  • Year Constructed: 1943
  • First Lit: 1943
  • Construction: Reinforced concrete
  • Tower Shape: Cylindrical on square dwelling
  • Height: 69 feet
  • Focal Height: 74 feet
  • Markings: White tower, red-brown caisson, and black lantern
  • Characteristic: Flashing white light every 10 seconds
  • Range: 15 nautical miles
  • Status: Active
  • NRHP Number: 87001462

Location Features

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Cleveland Ledge, Falmouth, Massachusetts

GPS Coordinates:
41.630972, -70.694167
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
The lighthouse is located miles offshore so no parking is available at the tower. On clear days, it can be seen from the mainland though. One of the best viewpoints from shore is Old Silver Beach in Falmouth. It is best to be viewed from boat.


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