Sandy Neck Light is a beautiful lighthouse on Sandy Neck, in West Barnstable, Massachusetts, at the entrance to Barnstable Harbor. The lighthouse can be seen by boat, by walking Sandy Neck Beach, or the Mass Audubon Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary. It is privately owned and not open to the public.
A lighthouse was necessary for Barnstable Harbor during the early 1800s because the whaling and fishing industries were increasing rapidly. In May of 1826, Congress authorized $3,500 to have a lighthouse constructed at the eastern point of Sandy Neck Beach. After the funds were secured, the town of Barnstable gave 2 acres of land where the lighthouse would be constructed.
The lighthouse was constructed throughout the summer of 1826 and it went into service on October 1, 1826. A sixteen-foot-tall wooden tower rose from the middle of a brick keeper’s residence in the original lighthouse. The 180-candlepower, fixed white light, which was powered by ten lamps with fourteen-and-a-half-inch reflectors stacked in two levels, shone forty feet above mean high water and was visible for nine nautical miles. To save fuel, a report from 1838 recommended that the four lighting in the upper tier be turned off.
In 1842, the lighthouse was examined by I. W. P. Lewis and he found many issues with it. He noted that some lights had been turned off and that this was making the visibility far shorter. He found other lights in poor condition which led to them being weak. Additionally, he did not believe the lighthouse structure was holding up well. Lewis recommended these problems be fixed because Sandy Neck Light was an important beacon for mariners to avoid hazards. Some issues were fixed, but the majority of them were not. In 1859, a report of the lighthouse found it to be in poor condition.
The old lighthouse was decommissioned in 1857 and torn down. It was replaced by a 48-foot brick tower, which still stands a little north of the original lighthouse site. In an effort to avoid cracks in the tower, the unique pair of iron hoops and six staves that surround the central part of the lighthouse were erected in 1887.
The lighthouse was decommissioned in the summer of 1931, while William L. Anderson was the keeper, and the lens was moved to a steel skeleton tower 200 feet closer to the edge of Sandy Neck. The new automated light was powered by acetylene gas and ran from April 15 to October 15 each year. In 1952, the light was turned out. The lighthouse’s lantern was dismantled, and the land was auctioned off to Warren J. Clear in 1933. For 1.93 acres and all of the light station buildings, the price was $711. The property was sold to Fred Lang, a Yankee Network radio personality, in 1944.
In 1950, Lang sold the property to the Hinckley family. The Sandy Neck Lighthouse is now managed by Ken Morton and Kee Hinckley on behalf of the family. Morton began working with the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation in 2004 to have a replica lantern installed on the tower in time for its 150th birthday in 2007. This was to be done both for aesthetic reasons and to protect the interior from water damage when it rains or snows. In October of 2007, the lamp was added.
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- Originally constructed: 1826
- Current tower constructed: 1857
- First lit: 1857 (current structure)
- Construction: Brick
- Tower shape: Cylindrical
- Height: 49 feet (15 m)
- Focal height: 52 feet (16 m)
- Markings: White with black lantern
- Characteristic: Flashing white light every 6 seconds (Fl W 6s)
- Range: 4 nautical miles (7.4 km; 4.6 mi)
- Status: Active
- Address: Sandy Neck Light
- Town: West Barnstable
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: Lat 41.72262 Lng -70.28093
- Parking notes: Driving to Sandy Neck Lighthouse is only allowed for residents of Sandy Neck or those with OSV permits for Sandy Neck Beach. The majority of sightseers park at the Mass Audubon Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable and look at the lighthouse located a mile across the harbor.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE
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