Eastham, Massachusetts

Nestled along Cable Road in Eastham, Massachusetts, on the picturesque Cape Cod National Seashore, stand the iconic and historic Three Sisters of Nauset.

Location Added By:

Tom Riley (GoXplr Account)

About This Location

Nestled along Cable Road in Eastham, Massachusetts, on the picturesque Cape Cod National Seashore, stand the iconic Three Sisters of Nauset, a trio of historic lighthouses also affectionately known as the Three Sister Lighthouses. These beloved structures have long been cherished as symbols of maritime history and the natural beauty of Cape Cod.

A Beacon Born of Concern

The story of the Three Sisters of Nauset begins with the concerns of Eastham residents in 1836, who were anxious about their loved ones at sea navigating the treacherous waters off Cape Cod. In response to their plea, the Boston Marine Society recommended to the United States Congress the construction of the Nauset Lights. Congress heeded the call, granting $10,000 for the project, and awarded the contract to the lowest bidder, Winslow Lewis, who undertook the task for $6,549.

The Birth of the Three Sisters

In 1838, the Three Sisters of Nauset Light Station came into being on Nauset Beach in Eastham. The station initially comprised a keeper's dwelling and three identical brick towers, each standing at a modest 15 feet in height. These towers were a deliberate choice to differentiate the station from other nearby lights.

The Evolution of Light

The towers were equipped with sixth-order Fresnel lenses in 1856, a significant upgrade that enhanced their visibility to mariners. Subsequently, in 1873, these lenses were replaced with larger fourth-order lenses, further improving their effectiveness. A new keeper's dwelling was added to the station in 1875.

The Peril of Eroding Bluffs

However, by 1890, a growing threat loomed as the eroding bluff approached dangerously close to the three towers. To counter this, in 1892, three new wooden towers were constructed further back from the eroding cliff. Alongside the towers, a new oil house was also erected.

The Continued March of Erosion

Despite these efforts, the relentless erosion persisted, and by 1911, the northernmost tower found itself just eight feet from the precipice. In response, the Lighthouse Service made the difficult decision to discontinue the multiple lights. They removed two of the towers from the site and relocated the remaining tower further inland, attaching it to the keeper's house.

A Unique Twist of Fate

In 1918, the retired towers found new life when they were sold into private ownership and became part of a summer cottage in Eastham. Remarkably, these historic structures were acquired for a mere $3.50 each.

The Arrival of a New Sister

By 1923, the remaining Sister was in deteriorating condition. Rather than constructing a new tower, one of the twin towers from Chatham Light Station was transported from Chatham to Eastham and anchored to a concrete foundation. Inside the lantern room, the fourth-order lens from the last tower of the Three Sisters Light Station found a new home. The original Three Sisters keeper's house was also moved to the new tower's location, and the site became known as the Nauset Light.

Like its predecessor, the discontinued Sister found itself in private hands, becoming integrated into a residence.

A Return to Glory

In 1975, after acquiring the land now known as Cape Cod National Seashore, the National Park Service embarked on a mission to reclaim the original Three Sisters' light towers. These historic structures were meticulously restored to their original configuration, and in 1989, they were unveiled to the public.

A Prestigious Honor

On June 15, 1987, the Three Sisters of Nauset earned a place of honor by being added to the National Register of Historic Places. This distinction reflects the lighthouses' profound historical significance and their enduring role in safeguarding maritime activities along Cape Cod. Inclusion on this prestigious list ensures that the legacy of the Three Sisters will be preserved for generations to come. The reference number for this historic site is 87001502.

Ownership and Access

Today, the Three Sisters of Nauset Light Station is under the ownership and care of the National Park Service as part of Cape Cod National Seashore. The grounds are open daily, and during the summer months, National Park Service rangers offer tours and open houses. Parking is available along Cable Road, with approximately three parking spots right in front of the lighthouses. An additional small parking area east of the lighthouses can accommodate approximately five cars. Parking is strictly timed, with a 30-minute limit, as these spaces are not intended for beach access. For those visiting the beach, more parking can be found at Nauset Light Beach, which can accommodate hundreds of cars. The light towers are also accessible via a short walk from the nearby Nauset Light Beach parking area.

The Three Sisters of Nauset stand not only as guardians of the coastline but also as enduring symbols of Cape Cod's rich maritime heritage and natural beauty. Their story continues to captivate and inspire visitors from near and far.

Location Features

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Cable Road, Eastham, Massachusetts

GPS Coordinates:
41.859083, -69.957167
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
There are about 3 parking spots located right along Cable Road infront of the lighthouses. There is also a small parking area located just to the east of the lighthouses. Parking around Three Sisters Lighthouses is timed and visitors have 30 minutes to explore the lighthouses. Parking times are strictly enforced because visitors are not allowed to use these parking spaces to visit the beach. More parking can be found at Nauset Light Beach, which can hold hundreds of cars.


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