ancestryink fisherman

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nobska Point Lighthouse for Sale

The Nobska Point Lighthouse was built in 1828 for the considerable sum of $2,949.30.

The lighthouse graces a hill overlooking the invisible junction of Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay.  It is a breathtaking view and the long, winding shore road leading past it, from Woods Hole to Falmouth, is one of the more picturesque drives of Cape Cod.

Yesterday, after a morning of cold snow flurries, the sun broke through and I headed to Surf Drive to take in the spectacular sunlight and view - and contemplate the fate of the beloved landmark which has, just recently, been marked to be sold by the Coast Guard.

Photo: J. Sweetland     Nobska Light    2.26.2014

The Keeper's house of late, has traditionally been occupied by the Commander of the local Coast Guard unit.  Recently, this person moved out of the house.  Inspection of the building revealed approximately a half million dollars of renovations needed.

Photo: J. Sweetland     Nobska Light    2.26.2014

The Coast Guard has been divesting itself of ownership and upkeep of lighthouses and buildings. This is no surprise or shock.  And they will continue to operate and maintain the light itself.

Here are a few historical facts:

In the 1840's, lighthouse keeper Peter Daggett manned the station.  Daggett was actually a veteran of the war of 1812.  Politics held sway in many areas, and in 1849, Peter Daggett was "removed" from his post for being a Democrat.

In 1874, Oliver Nickerson manned the lighthouse.  He held the longest stint, ending in 1911.  His daughter Florence was as active as her father in the functioning of the light and buildings.

Pre-1876  Nobska Lighthouse
The tower as it appears now, was built in 1876.  The iron tower was built in a shipyard elsewhere in New England and brought to the location.

Next, came George Cameron, taking over in 1911.  It is said that his wife and six children quite immediately departed.  Perhaps they found lighthouse life too confining or isolated. It's not for everyone.

The importance of the Nobska Light has not wavered over the centuries.  In 1829, 10,000 vessels passed by Nobska Point.  In 1866, in the course of one day, 188 ships passed the light, most of them schooners.

Time passed, and in 1968, Joseph Hindly inhabited the lighthouse keeper's cottage until 1972.  By 1985, the cottage was inhabited by the Coast Guard commander, and that tradition continued to the present.

The Nobska Lighhouse bears a strong resemblance to another personal favorite of mine, visited often during my four years in Maine:

Nubble Light   Cape Neddick, Maine
This has been a very 'dashed-off' history of Nobska Light.  There are many additional facts, stories and people to fill out the long life of the lighthouse and keeper's buildings. Not to mention the history of the fourth order Fresnel lens that lights the way through dangerous shoals Hedge Fence and L'Hommedieu in Woods Hole. (Interesting discovery: Ezra Hommedieu (1734-1811), a lawyer and statesman from New York, chose the location of the Montauk Point Lighthouse, in 1796.)

Town news imparts that it is very likely a non-profit organization will pull together to purchase and care for the lighthouse which is already included in the National Registry of Historic Places. As this has been happening along other areas of the nation's seashore, there are many models in existence for the take-over and care of our lighthouses.  We will hope for the best!


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