Marblehead, Massachusetts

Marblehead Lighthouse, a beacon of history and maritime heritage, stands tall on Marblehead Neck, guarding the entrance to Marblehead Harbor in Massachusetts.

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About This Location

Marblehead Lighthouse: Guiding Ships to Safe Harbor

Marblehead Lighthouse, a beacon of history and maritime heritage, stands proudly on Marblehead Neck, guarding the entrance to Marblehead Harbor in Massachusetts. This iconic structure has been a steadfast guide for mariners entering the harbor for generations.

A Call for a Guiding Light

The need for a lighthouse at the harbor's entrance became apparent to the residents and visitors of Marblehead in August 1831, as maritime traffic increased. Congress approved the construction of a lighthouse, resulting in the completion of a 23-foot tall tower in 1835. On October 10, 1835, its beacon shone for the first time, powered by ten whale oil-burning lamps within an octagonal lantern. Later, in 1857, the old lamp system was upgraded to include a sixth-order Fresnel lens and reflectors.

Despite subsequent maintenance and repairs to the tower and the keeper's house, the original lighthouse fell into disrepair. In 1893, the decision was made to construct a new lighthouse. Initially, plans called for a brick tower, towering 100 feet tall, with an estimated cost of $45,000. However, the government declined to fund this project. Instead, a unique 100-foot skeletal structure was chosen, becoming the only one of its kind in New England, with the next closest tower located in Coney Island, New York.

The Birth of the Skeleton Tower

The new Marblehead Light was composed of eight cast iron piles anchored in concrete foundations. Perched atop this skeleton tower was a kerosene lamp equipped with a sixth-order Fresnel lens. On April 17, 1896, it cast its first fixed white light. Subsequently, its light was altered to fixed red in 1922 and later to fixed green in 1938. In 1960, the light was electrified and automated. A new 300 mm (12 in) optic was installed in 1960, emitting a fixed green light visible for up to 7 nautical miles.

A Place of Honor and Recognition

In recognition of its historical significance and role in maritime navigation, Marblehead Lighthouse earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places on June 15, 1987. This prestigious designation underscores its enduring importance in American history, with a reference number of 87001479.

Preservation and Community

Today, the Town of Marblehead takes on the responsibility of maintaining the tower and the picturesque Chandler Hovey Park that surrounds it. The park offers picnic tables, benches, and breathtaking views, making it an ideal place to enjoy the lighthouse's beauty. Visitors can access the park, which features a sizable parking lot, located at the end of Lighthouse Lane. Parking is free and available during daylight hours, offering a convenient way to experience this historic site.

While the lighthouse retains its original "metallic brown" hue, it continues to fulfill its purpose as an active navigational aid monitored by the Coast Guard. A heartwarming tradition has also been established by the Marblehead Rotary Club. Since 1992, they have organized the stringing and maintenance of lights atop the lighthouse every Christmas and Fourth of July, illuminating this maritime treasure for special occasions.

Location Features

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Lighthouse Lane, Marblehead, Massachusetts

GPS Coordinates:
42.505461, -70.833665
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
Marblehead Lighthouse is located in the beautiful Chandler Hovey Park which is located at the end of Lighthouse Lane in Marblehead. There are 32 free parking spots for visitors of the park and lighthouse.


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