Falmouth, Massachusetts

Nobska Lighthouse, a cherished Cape Cod icon in Falmouth, sits majestically at the confluence of Buzzards Bay, Nantucket Sound, and Vineyard Sound.

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About This Location

Nobska Lighthouse: Guiding Ships and Preserving History on Cape Cod

Nobska Lighthouse, a cherished Cape Cod icon in Falmouth, Massachusetts, sits majestically at the confluence of Buzzards Bay, Nantucket Sound, and Vineyard Sound. Its historic presence has long played a crucial role in maritime navigation and now stands as a beacon of Cape Cod's rich heritage.

The Early Years

The roots of Nobska Light trace back to 1828 when the first light was placed atop the keeper's residence. However, the lighthouse as we know it today took shape in 1876. A cast-iron tower, standing at forty feet tall and lined with brick, emerged alongside a one-and-a-half-story wood-frame keeper's house. An interesting fact about the tower's construction is that its sections were cast in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and shipped in four pieces. This sturdy structure was painted a dark reddish-brown, and it bore miniature lighthouses atop each baluster encircling the lantern room. Perched atop a bluff, this location grants Nobska Lighthouse a focal height of 87 feet, enhancing its visibility and importance in maritime safety.

Illuminating the Waters

Nobska Light has always served as a crucial navigational aid. Its Fourth-order Fresnel lens, a marvel of its time, emits a white flash every 6 seconds and features a red sector to guide mariners safely through treacherous waters. The white flashes extend for 13 nautical miles, while the red sector's beams reach out to 11 miles, providing clear guidance even in challenging conditions.

A Lighthouse Keeper's Legacy

A steel radio beacon tower, soaring to 125 feet, was erected in 1937 adjacent to the lighthouse, enhancing communication capabilities in the area. While the United States Coast Guard assumed responsibility for the lighthouse from the United States Lighthouse Service in 1939, a civilian lightkeeper continued to reside on-site until November 1973. Joseph Hindley, the last known civilian lightkeeper in New England, served diligently until his retirement.

Automation and Preservation

In 1985, Nobska Lighthouse witnessed a significant change as it was automated, obviating the need for lightkeepers. The keeper's home was subsequently converted into the Commanding Officer's residence for the United States Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England. However, by 2012, this historic dwelling was in need of serious maintenance, having been largely abandoned.

In 1987, Nobska Light was bestowed with a remarkable honor—it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This recognition signified its importance as a cultural and historical treasure. The National Park Service assigned the lighthouse the refence number 87001483.

A Community's Efforts

The future of Nobska Lighthouse encountered a turning point in 2014 when the U.S. Coast Guard announced its intent to relinquish ownership. This development sparked widespread community interest in preserving this beloved landmark for public enjoyment and education. The Friends of Nobska Light emerged as a collective effort, uniting the Falmouth Historical Society, Woods Hole Historical Museum, Woods Hole Community Association, Highfield Hall & Gardens, and numerous individuals.

With a comprehensive plan for acquiring and restoring the lighthouse, the Friends' vision garnered the endorsement of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Falmouth Board of Selectmen. Funding was secured, and meticulous efforts led to the transformation of the keeper's home and lighthouse into a publicly accessible museum, celebrating the maritime history of the area.

In April 2017, a quarter-million-dollar restoration breathed new life into the lighthouse tower. Today, Nobska Lighthouse stands not only as a guide to mariners but also as a place to learn, capture history through photography, enjoy picnics, cast a fishing line, stroll along the shore, and create cherished memories. It is a testament to the enduring spirit of community, preservation, and the shared love for Cape Cod's maritime legacy.

Location Features

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233 Nobska Road, Falmouth, Massachusetts

GPS Coordinates:
41.515778, -70.655164
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
Parking at Nobska Lighthouse is extremely limited. There are about 6-8 parking spots at the lighthouse parking lot just off Nobska Road. Additional parking is available along Church Street next to Nobska Beach.


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