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Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse

Edgartown Harbor lighthouse

Edgartown, Massachusetts
Built in 1828


Location:

The lighthouse marks the entrance to Edgartown Harbor, off Water Street.

Latitude: 41° 23' 27" N
Longitude: 70° 30' 11" W

 

Historic Stories:

In the late 1700s and early 1800s Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard developed a booming whaling industry that comprised of almost a quarter of America's whaling fleet just before the Revolution.

The original lighthouse built in 1828, sat offshore so the keepers had to row a short distance to reach the mainland.

In 1830, a wooden causeway was built to the lighthouse.

early Edgartown light construction 1830

Edgartown Harbor Light
1830 Construction
Courtesy US Coast Guard

It became known locally as the "Bridge of Sighs," because men about to leave on whaling voyages would frequently walk there with their wives or girlfriends.

Keeper Pease became part of a minor scandal when a local paper claimed that the lighthouse had become “a rendezvous for all kinds of dissipating.” Apparently a young man boarding with the keeper was the cause of the allegations, and Pease managed to reclaim his reputation and continued as keeper for two separate periods of thirteen and six years (1828-1841 and 1843-1849).

This often occurred because a keeper’s political patronage often ruled lighthouse appointments, and as a Democrat, Pease was replaced twice when the Whig Party was in power.

After being destroyed by the hurricane of 1938, the current lighthouse was barged from its location on Crane’s Beach, in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

With decades of neglect the beacon fell into disrepair. Many years later funding was finally granted for the lighthouse and it was restored and renovated in 2008.

 

 

Places to Visit Nearby:

Edgartown contains some of the island’s most elegant and historic homes. Many were built during the booming whaling industry in the 19th century.

The lighthouse is a short walk from downtown Edgartown, with plenty of specialty shops along the way, and brick lined streets.
edgartown streets on martha's vineyard

The grounds are open to the public and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum is also located nearby.

At Edgartown, you can take the tiny Chappaquiddick ferry to Chappaquiddick Island and explore nearby Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge with a narrated tour by the park rangers.

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum contains the island’s largest gathering of cultural artifacts, historic records and photographs, and offers lighthouse tours in the summer months. In addition to the historical elegance of this preserved area, there are plenty of beaches and hiking trails to enjoy in Edgartown and all around Martha’s Vineyard.

 

Directions:

 

Contact Info:
Martha’s Vineyard Museum
151 Lagoon Pond Road
Vineyard Haven MA 02568
Phone: (508) 627-4441

 

 

Ferries to Martha's Vineyard and Boat Tours

Most of the boats mentioned below involve ferry service to take visitors to the islands from either the mainland or between the islands. They may also offer other types of cruises.

 

Seastreak
Ferry from New Bedford to Martha’s Vineyard
49 State Pier
New Bedford, MA 02740
(800) 262-8743

 

 

Hy-Line Cruises
Hyannis-Oak Bluffs ferry; also Nantucket-Oak Bluffs ferry.
220 Ocean Street Dock
Hyannis, Massachusetts 02601
Information: (508) 778-2600
Oak Bluffs (508) 693-0112
Hyannis-Nantucket ferry (508) 778-2602

 

 

Island Queen
Ferry from Falmouth, Mass.
297 Dillingham Avenue,
Falmouth, MA 02540.
Phone (508) 548-4800.

 

 

Steamship Authority
Ferries to both islands
Vehicle Reservations Call: (508) 477-8600
Office Hours or (508) 693-9130
Fast Ferry Reservations: (508) 495-FAST (3278)
Woods Hole: (508) 548-3788
Vineyard Haven: (508) 693-0367
Oak Bluffs: (508) 693-0125
Hyannis: (508) 771-4000
Nantucket: (508) 228-0262

 

 

Rhode Island to Martha's Vineyard Fast Ferry
Ferry from Quonset Point, Rhode Island to Oak Bluffs Marina on a high-speed catamaran.
North Kingstown, RI 02852
Phone: 401-295-4040
Fax: 401-295-4930
Email: info@vineyardfastferry.com

 

 

Martha's Vineyard Tours

MVTour.com
Bus and trolley tours of the island.
(508) 693-1555
508-627-TOUR (8687)
Charters 508-693-4681

 

 

My book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions you can explore.

Look inside!

 

book of lighthouses in southern New England

 

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