Wood End Lighthouse

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Perched at the tip of the Provincetown Spit in Provincetown, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, Wood End Lighthouse is a beacon of maritime history.
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About This Location

Wood End Lighthouse: Guiding Mariners on Cape Cod’s Edge

Perched at the southernmost tip of the Provincetown Spit in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Wood End Lighthouse is a beacon of maritime history that has safeguarded mariners since 1872.

Navigational Challenges

The history of this vital navigational aid traces back to 1864 when a white pyramidal day beacon was first erected at Wood End. This move aimed to address the persistent navigational challenges posed by the Provincetown Spit. Despite these efforts, maritime incidents continued with some causing fatalities. The wreckage of the schooner William H. Atwood in November 1871 marked a critical turning point, prompting the construction of Wood End Lighthouse.

The Birth of Wood End Lighthouse

The lighthouse’s inception was made possible by Congress, which allocated $15,000 for its construction on June 10, 1872. Positioned strategically between Long Point Lighthouse and Race Point Lighthouse, Wood End Lighthouse was equipped with a fifth-order Fresnel lens. It cast its first red light on November 20, 1872, thanks to Keeper Thomas Lowe, who faithfully served for a quarter of a century.

The lighthouse itself featured a square, pyramidal brick tower, painted brown, while the lantern, railing, deck, and ironwork were all finished in black. The light’s focal plane stood 34 feet above the ground and 45 feet above sea level. Nestled fifty feet northeast of the tower was a quaint one-and-a-half-story cream-colored timber keeper’s house.

Modernization and Recognition

In 1961, automation swept through Wood End Lighthouse, replacing the traditional keeper with a contemporary aerobeacon in the lantern room. The keeper’s cottage and garage became obsolete and were subsequently demolished. Solar panels were installed in 1981, making Wood End one of the country’s pioneering solar-powered lights.

On June 15, 1987, Wood End Lighthouse achieved a distinguished honor by being added to the National Register of Historic Places. This recognition underscores the lighthouse’s pivotal role in the region’s maritime heritage. Its reference number, 87001504, secures its place among the nation’s cherished historic landmarks.

Preservation and Stewardship

Today, Wood End Lighthouse remains under the ownership of the Coast Guard. However, the American Lighthouse Foundation was granted a license to maintain it in 1998. Collaborating with New England Lighthouse Lovers, the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation has tirelessly worked to preserve and maintain the lighthouse, including painting the oil house and tower several times.

Visiting Wood End Lighthouse

For those eager to experience the allure of Wood End Lighthouse, there are various options. Visitors can view the lighthouse from afar or embark on one of the many cruises departing from Provincetown. For a more immersive experience, one can reach the lighthouse by boat or on foot via the historic Provincetown Causeway.

The Provincetown Causeway, constructed in 1911, stretches approximately one mile across the upper end of Provincetown Harbor. Many hikers use this scenic causeway to access Wood End Lighthouse, with the journey taking roughly 30 minutes each way. The nearest parking lot to the causeway can be found around Pilgrims’ First Landing Park, offering a few dozen free parking spaces. These spots tend to fill up quickly, especially on pleasant summer days, as visitors flock to witness the enduring majesty of Wood End Lighthouse.

Location

Address: Provincetown, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.021207, -70.193475
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.021207, -70.193475
Parking Notes: Many visitors access Wood End Lighthouse by walking along the Provincetown Causeway. The closest parking lot to the causeway is located around Pilgrims’ First Landing Park. There are a few dozen free parking spaces around the park which are free. These parking spots do fill up quickly, especially during nice summer days.

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