Point Gammon Lighthouse

Yarmouth, Massachusetts
Point Gammon Lighthouse on Great Island in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts is a historic beacon. It was built in 1816 and deactivated in 1858.
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About This Location

Introduction:

Nestled on Great Island in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, the Point Gammon Lighthouse has witnessed centuries of maritime history and stands as a unique testament to both its navigational past and its transformation into an ornithological observation tower. This historic beacon on the east side of Lewis Bay has evolved over time, leaving a rich legacy for all who appreciate coastal heritage.

Why was the lighthouse needed, and where was the designated placement?

The Point Gammon Lighthouse was essential to ensure the safety of vessels navigating the treacherous waters around Gammon Point, particularly at the entrance to Hyannis Harbor and Lewis Bay. The area around Gammon Point presented challenges for mariners, and the need for a navigational aid became evident. A stone tower was constructed in response to a petition to Congress, bearing similarities to the Race Point Light.

Establishment and Other Buildings:

The first light at Gammon Point was established in 1816, with Samuel Peak serving as the first keeper. The light was initially exhibited using seven lamps and reflectors, emitting a fixed white light. Over time, the station expanded to include a stone keeper’s house on the site.

Changes to the Lighthouse Tower and Station:

The original stone tower was later modified with a brick extension, raising its focal height to 70 feet. However, as maritime traffic increased, it became evident that the light station needed improvements. In 1858, the light at Point Gammon was discontinued, replaced by the new Bishops and Clerks Lighthouse, which rendered it obsolete. John Peak, who succeeded his father as the keeper, became the first keeper of the new tower.

Specifications of the Lighthouse:

  • Height: The Point Gammon Lighthouse originally stood at 25 feet in height. After the addition of the brick extension, the focal height reached 70 feet.
  • Shape: The tower was conical and made of stone, later modified with a brick extension.
  • Color: The original color was white, but it eventually took on the natural appearance of stone over time.
  • Flashing Pattern: The lighthouse did not have a characteristic flashing pattern.
  • Beacon: The lighthouse once had an iron lantern, which was later removed. A taller structure was added to the top, facilitating its use as a viewing platform for ornithological observation.

Ownership and Maintenance Today:

Point Gammon Lighthouse and the surrounding 14 acres are privately owned. The lighthouse stands on the private Great Island, which is not accessible to the public. Ownership of the property containing the old light has remained in the Chace family since 1914.

Visiting the Lighthouse Today:

Regrettably, Point Gammon Lighthouse is not open to the public, and the grounds are private. Visitors do not have access to the lighthouse, and there is no parking available at the site. The tower can only be viewed from a distance, often from boats, or ferries departing or arriving in Hyannis from Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, or during lighthouse tours offered by organizations like Bay Spirit Tours, which provide a view of Point Gammon Lighthouse and other nearby navigational aids.

While visiting the lighthouse itself is not an option, the coastal beauty and historical significance of the area can still be appreciated from afar, making it a picturesque destination for those exploring the maritime heritage of Cape Cod.

Lighthouse Specs

  • Year Constructed: 1816
  • First Lit: 1816
  • Construction: Stone
  • Tower Shape: Conical tower
  • Height: 25 feet
  • Focal Height: 70 feet
  • Markings: Originally white, but now natural stone
  • Characteristic: N/A
  • Range: N/A
  • Status: Deactivated in 1858

Location

Address: Great Island Road, Yarmouth, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 41.609667, -70.266222
Parking GPS Coordinates: 41.609667, -70.266222
Parking Notes: The lighthouse and the surrounding 14 acres are privately owned. The lighthouse is also located on the private Great Island, which does not allow public visitors. For this reason, there is no parking available at the lighthouse. The tower cannot be seen from anywhere on the mainland publicly. It can be viewed by boat or plane. The lighthouse can be spotted from ferries departing or arriving in Hyannis from Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.

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