Tisbury, Massachusetts

West Chop Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located in Tisbury, Massachusetts on Martha's Vineyard. The light station was established in 1817.

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About This Location


West Chop Lighthouse, a venerable beacon located in Tisbury, Massachusetts, on the enchanting Martha's Vineyard, stands as both a guardian of seafarers and a symbol of maritime heritage. This historic lighthouse has played a pivotal role in guiding vessels safely through the waters surrounding this picturesque island.

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

The necessity for West Chop Lighthouse arose from the intricate coastal waters surrounding Martha's Vineyard. The designated placement for this vital navigational aid was West Chop, a prominent point on the northern shore of the island. Its strategic location was chosen to guide vessels approaching the Vineyard Sound and to prevent them from straying into hazardous waters.

When was the lighthouse established?

West Chop Lighthouse was first established in 1817, making it one of the earliest lighthouses on Martha's Vineyard. Its historic light has faithfully served the mariners of this region for over two centuries.

Changes to the lighthouse tower and station:

Over the years, West Chop Lighthouse has undergone various renovations and maintenance work to ensure its continued functionality and preservation. While the tower's fundamental design remains largely unchanged, upgrades to the lighting apparatus and other essential equipment have been implemented to modernize its navigational capabilities. It was completely rebuilt in 1891.

Specifications of the lighthouse:

  • Height: The West Chop Lighthouse stands at approximately 45 feet tall with a focal height of 84 feet, providing a commanding presence along the island's northern shoreline.
  • Shape: It boasts the classic New England lighthouse design, featuring a white, conical tower constructed of brick.
  • Color: The tower is traditionally painted white to ensure its visibility against the backdrop of the sea.
  • Flashing Pattern: Historically, the lighthouse exhibited a characteristic white light that flashed at regular intervals, providing essential guidance to mariners navigating these coastal waters.

Listing on the National Register of Historic Places:

Yes, West Chop Lighthouse has been recognized for its historical significance and architectural beauty, earning its place on the National Register of Historic Places. This prestigious designation highlights its importance as a maritime landmark in American history. The National Park Service assigned the lighthouse reference number 87001506.

Ownership and Maintenance Today:

The U.S. Coast Guard currently owns and maintains West Chop Lighthouse, ensuring that it continues to serve as a reliable navigational aid for vessels navigating the waters around Martha's Vineyard.

Visiting the lighthouse today:

West Chop Lighthouse holds a special allure for visitors interested in experiencing its rich maritime history and enjoying breathtaking views of Martha's Vineyard. While the tower itself is typically not open to the public, the surrounding grounds are often accessible, offering an excellent vantage point to admire the lighthouse and its coastal surroundings.

Visitors can explore the area, take photographs, and learn about the lighthouse's history through informational displays and plaques. While there may not be guided tours inside the tower, the scenic beauty and historical significance make it a popular spot for both tourists and locals.

Parking facilities are available nearby, providing convenient access to the lighthouse grounds. Visitors can relish the serene atmosphere and embrace the island's maritime heritage while enjoying the picturesque setting that West Chop Lighthouse offers.

Lighthouse Specs
  • Originally Constructed: 1817
  • Current Tower Constructed: 1891
  • First Lit: 1891 (current tower)
  • Construction: Brick
  • Tower Shape: Conical
  • Height: 45 feet
  • Focal Height: 84 feet
  • Markings: White tower with black lantern
  • Characteristic: Occulting white light every 4 seconds along with a red sector
  • Range: White light has a range of 14 nautical miles while the red has a range of 10 nautical miles
  • Status: Active
  • NRHP Number: 87001506

Location Features

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921 Main Street, Tisbury, Massachusetts

GPS Coordinates:
41.480806, -70.599778
Directions to location:
Click here for location directions
Directions to parking area:
Click here for parking directions
Parking Notes:
There is a small area to pull over on the side of the road right in front of the lighthouse. Parking is free along Main Street.


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