Cape Cod Lighthouse

Truro, Massachusetts

  • Site Established: 1797
  • Current Bldg. Erected: 1857
  • Height of Light Structure: 66 ft.
  • Focal Plane of Light: 183 ft.
  • Active: Yes
  • Lens: VRB-25
  • Beacon Visibility: 19 N Miles
  • Information: 508-487-1121

Historic Significance Score: 5

In 1794, Reverend James Freeman, writing on behalf of the Massachusetts Historical Society, requested the Federal Government to build a lighthouse on the land that was considered the highest elevation point of Cape Cod, and that was positioned a few miles south of a dangerous waterway known as Peaked Hill Bars.

After the approval of Congress, Highland Light, named for its geographic location, was built in 1797. It was the 7th light constructed in the new country.

After many repairs to the original wooden light, the current standing lighthouse was built in 1857 for $15,000 and fitted with a first order Fresnel lens which was important for ocean lighthouses that needed far reaching visibility. This first order Fresnel made the lighthouse one of the brightest on the eastern seaboard.

In 1901, an even larger 1st order Fresnel lens was placed in the lighthouse that unquestionably established Highland Lighthouse as the brightest beacon in America.

During the European/American immigration of the late 1800’s, Highland Lighthouse would be the first site of America that many immigrants would see as they approached Boston Harbor, and pursued their dreams in their new land.

In World War I, the US Navy used the land at Highland Lighthouse to build a Navy radio station that was very important to our offshore Naval efforts.

In the bicentennial year, the light’s name was officially change to Cape Cod Light.

After 140 years of cliff erosion, which can be up to 3 feet a year, the light’s position became dangerously close to the edge of 100 foot cliffs. The edge of the cliff placement that was originally meant to aid the beacon cast its light, now threatened its existence. Realizing the severity of the situation, the Truro Historical Society spearheaded a grass roots effort to collect funds to save North Truro’s most popular landmark.

The $150,000 dollars that was raised by the Historical Society was complimented by $1.5 million in government funds, and the lighthouse in 1996 was moved 450 ft. back from the edge of the cliffs by the same company that moved the Block Island Southeast Light a few years prior.

Majesty Score: 4

In April 2001, wide spread revamping was done to the light tower and really made the tower look pristine. The repairs took care of stripping the lead paint inside the tower and included a comprehensive campaign against rust.

This overhall and renovation was in addition to the much publicized relocation of the 900,000 pound structure in 1996.

The site is managed by the Highland Museum and Lighthouse, Inc. They do a very an extremely commendable job.

This Massachusetts’ Lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Surrounding Area Score: 4

North Truro is a beautiful community with a lot of waterfront property. Unfortunately, Route 6, which cuts the Cape in half running up the center of the land mass has no ocean views while traveling up the Cape to Truro, thus making the ride somewhat uneventful.

One must really leave the main route to see and enjoy the serene Atlantic Ocean beaches or the bay on the western side of this gorgeous outbranch of the country.

The population of the Cape tends to get more scattered and the area more remote as one travels north on the Cape. North Truro is really a great community and would be great for a visit or vacation stay! Cape Cod has great lodging and cozy bed and breakfasts to let your enjoy your lighthouse vacation or to return to Cape Cod many times.

Accessibility Score: 5

Cape Cod Light rates a 5 on accessibility and offers a great chance to climb the light tower and really enjoy the view!

What makes this light tower so unforgettable is that it is situated right in the middle of the Highland Links Golf Course! It is really something to see – – a lighthouse right in the middle of a 9 hole golf course!

Highland Light Golf Course, a Scottich links style 9 hole golf course, is the one of the oldest golf courses on the east coast, dating back to 1892.

The light was originally on the edge of the course, but with its relocation back from the eroding cliffs the lighthouse almost kisses the 7th hole!

When we were there the tour guide showed us a light tower window that was shattered with a sliced golf ball. Fore!!!!!!!!!! You can actually see the window taped up to the right. So please keepem’ on the fairway and take mercy on this national treasure.

As a suggestion to those who can play golf, a quick round of golf might be justified because it opens access areas around the lighthouse to you that non-golf visitors can’t get to. You can practice taking a few shots off your game and take some really great shots that most of the tourists would not be able to get. Also, the 3rd hole is right up against the cliffs on the south side looking back at the lighthouse and will let you get a shot of the light with the ocean sprawled out to its right!

One nice effort on the part of North Truro is that they have assembled a wooden lookout/observation porch near the edge of the cliffs where everyone can get a great view of the ocean.

The lighthouse tour guides at Cape Cod Lighthouse are very good and make the history of the light come alive.

The keeper’s house features a gift shop and a small museum on the light.

Also, the lighthouse tour hours are very visitor friendly. The grounds are open all year, and the tower is open from May until October, 7 days a week, 10:30 A.M. to 5 P.M. Please check the link below for specifics.

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