Exploring Cape Ann Lighthouses
Lighthouses have long been symbols of sanctuary and beacons of hope for sailors that the long journey on the open waters has come to an end. Historically, lighthouses along the coast of Cape Ann have guided ships to port avoiding rocky shores or shallow reefs. Today’s modern technology and global positioning satellites (GPS) now guide these vessels into harbors, but the allure and legacy of these maritime towers still exist.
Cape Ann is fortunate to have many lighthouses that dot the majestic shoreline. Here are five iconic lighthouses that you’ll want to visit during your time on Cape Ann.
Ten Pound Lighthouse
This charming lighthouse can be seen standing 30 feet tall on Ten Pound Island, at the eastern end of Gloucester Harbor. Originally constructed in 1821 to aid boats through Gloucester’s inner harbor, it was rebuilt with cast iron and brick in 1881. More recently, it was completely restored through the efforts of the Lighthouse Preservation Society.
Not only is this light a guide into the harbor for fishermen and boat owners alike, but it also has a claim to fame as the home to America’s first Coast Guard station.
Ten Pound Lighthouse can be viewed from several locations along the waterfront. Visit Gloucester’s Harbor or locations in Stage Fort Park, along Stacey Boulevard, or while dipping your toes at Pavillion Beach.
Eastern Point Lighthouse
Constructed in 1832 to aid in navigating the entrance of Gloucester’s working harbor, Eastern Point Lighthouse can be found by driving along Eastern Point Boulevard. While visitors are not allowed to tour the light, they can walk the grounds, or explore the 2,200-foot breakwater.
The station is currently owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and a parking lot next to the station is owned by the Mass Audubon Society. Parking at the Audubon allows for amazing views of the lighthouse and the varied wildlife that calls this area home.
Located on the northern coast of Cape Ann, Annisquam Lighthouse marks the entrance to the Annisquam River at Wigwam Point. To view this quaint lighthouse, visit Wingaersheek Beach, the village of Annisquam in Gloucester, or take a water tour on one of Gloucester’s many harbor cruises. The light is currently maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse
If you have strolled in and out of the shops and restaurants along Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Massachusetts, chances are you have seen Straitsmouth Island Lighthouse. Located at the entrance of Rockport Harbor, this brick lighthouse was originally built in 1835 and has been through restorations throughout the year. Its original purpose was to guide sailors through the dangerous reefs of the Salvages and Avery's Ledge.
The island that Straitsmouth Light calls home is shared by the United States Coast Guard, which occupies the station and the almost 2 acres of land surrounding it. The other 31 acres of the island are owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society and are maintained as a bird sanctuary.
Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses
Also known as Cape Ann Light Station or Twin Light, Thacher Island Lighthouse has two towers - the North and South, which are among the nation’s oldest lighthouses and the only surviving multiple lights on the coasts of the United States.
The South Tower has a red flashing light and the North an amber steady light. These were placed and designed so that mariners could use the two towers to align themselves to the true north and adjust their compasses.
The North Tower is maintained and continuously lit by the Thacher Island Association “as a ‘Courtesy’ light in memory to mariners who have passed.”
Thacher Island is located approximately a mile off Rockport’s coast and can be seen from many locations in both Rockport and Gloucester while traveling along the seashore.
During your time on Cape Ann, be sure to get a glimpse of these historic and magnificent lighthouses. They are a part of our maritime history and symbols of hope and a guide to safety.