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Wood End Lighthouse

Wood End lighthouse

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Built in 1872



Located at the end of a jetty midway along the section of a sandbar forming the harbor at Provincetown.

Latitude: 42° 01' 16" N
Longitude: 70° 11' 37" W


Historic Stories:

Before the lighthouse was built in 1864, day markers were used to guide mariners around the treacherous Wood End Bar and Shank Painter Bar that claimed many vessels and their crews.

early wood end light

Vintage Image Courtesy US Coast Guard

Despite the construction of three lighthouses around Provincetown, including Wood Island Light as the more recent, shipwrecks would still occur on the treacherous bars.


The Perfect Storm

One of the worst storms in New England’s history occurred during the Thanksgiving week of 1898, when two storm systems would came together over the New England coast.

At Wood End Lighthouse, Keeper Issac G. Fisher had climbed into the lookout tower just before daybreak and saw the morning patrolman from the lifesaving station nearby, Frank C. Wagner, running back towards the lighthouse. wood end lighthouse tower

Wagner had seen two schooners wrecked offshore a couple of miles down, and informed Keeper Fisher to sound the alarm.

The keeper had the surfmen drag the heavy surfboat for hours down to the beach and into the raging surf. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, many hours after the wrecks were initially sighted, they started slowly to make way towards the closest of the schooners, the Jorden L. Mott. There they found 5 members, frozen, but four still alive clinging to the rigging.

They were able to rescue the men, but as nightfall approached, any efforts to attempt a rescue of the other schooner wreck, the Lester A Lewis, would have been fatal for the rescuers as the storm continued in its intensity. It was believed and that all aboard had already perished.

Note: For more details of this story, select the link "Thanksgiving Rescue" Blog at the top of the page to be directed to my section of Lighthouse Stories.

Wood End light



In 1927, just before Christmas, the Navy submarine S-4 and the Coast Guard cutter Paulding collided about a half-mile from Wood Island Light, 40 men perished in the disaster. Three months later, the S-4 was raised and studied to help create better safety measures for future submarines.

The distance of the lighthouse from town would sometimes maroon keepers in inclement weather from getting supplies from the mainland. At the tip of Cape Cod winters were severe and kept the Coast Guard from getting supplies to the station. Keeper Douglas H. Shepherd was trapped at the light for weeks during a severe ice storm in February 1935. Despite his isolation, according to a newspaper report with the keeper afterwards, since the Coast Guard kept him in touch with the mainland, he had no worries.



Places to Visit:

Provincetown is one of the largest artists’ communities with many art galleries, or check out local museums or one of the many cultural events. As one of the international vacationers' capitals, you can also find plenty of activities to rent fishing and charter boats.

whale's tail From Provincetown, visitors can choose to go on whale watches from either Provincetown’s Dolphin Fleet, and Captain John Boats.

The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown has the nation’s tallest granite structure at 252 feet with the nearby Provincetown Museum to visit.

granite tower of the Pilgrim Monument

Pilgrim Monument

Provincetown is also the oldest continuous art colony in the country offering an active gallery scene, plus lively nightlife along with many specialty shops and events for tourists who come from around the world.

Visit the Whydah Museum to see real pirate treasure and artifacts from the pirate ship the Whyda which sunk off the coast of Provincetown in 1717. The Whydah is the only verified pirate shipwreck ever discovered.

jetty leads to wood end light

To reach Wood End lighthouse, you can walk the half-mile long breakwater at First Landing Pilgrim Park, and then hike another three quarters of a mile through sand to the lighthouse.

Another option would be to rent a kayak and paddle to the light, but a hike through the sand is still required.

If you enjoy hiking, during low tide, you can hike the sands from Wood End lighthouse to Long Point lighthouse which is an additional 1 1/2 miles. The round trip to hike to both lighthouses and back to the First Landing Park is about 4 hours. Flyer’s Boat Rental offers kayak rentals and also a direct shuttle to Long Point Lighthouse.

The 33 miles of breathtaking beaches around Provincetown offer plenty of relaxation for tourists to the city. The Cape Cod National Seashore offers plenty of hiking and biking trails, or beach space for those that want to relax and play.




Contact Info:
American Lighthouse Foundation
P.O. Box 889
Wells, Maine 04090


Local Boat Tours and Ferries For Visitors

Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below may offer many types of cruises. Some will pass by Wood End Lighthouse from a distance as part of ferrying passengers and other types of excursion coming into and going out of Provincetown Harbor.

Captain John's Fast Ferry

You can get a distant view of Wood End lighthouse from the ferry as it enters Macmillan Wharf in Provincetown.
77 Water St.,
Plymouth, Massachusetts 02360
Phone: (508) 927-5587


Flyer's Boat Yard

Rents kayaks and also provides shuttle service to Long Point.
131A Commercial Street
Box 561
Provincetown, Mass. 02657
Phone: (508) 487-0898


Books to Explore

book of the rise and demise of the largest sailing ships

To order a signed paperback copy:

Available also from bookstores in paperback, hardcover, and as an eBook for all devices.

my ebook on apple books

The Rise and Demise of the Largest Sailing Ships:
Stories of the Six and Seven-Masted Coal Schooners of New England

In the early 1900s, New England shipbuilders fiercely competed to construct the world’s largest sailing ships amid social and political reforms. These giants of sail were the ten original six-masted coal schooners and one colossal seven-masted vessel, built to carry massive quantities of coal and building supplies, and measured longer than a football field!

This book, balanced with plenty of color and vintage images, showcases many historical events that occurred while sailing around the dangerous shoals of Cape Cod and the islands during stormy weather.



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

In this book you'll find local stories from all lighthouses in the Cape Cod region.

Look inside!

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England




New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues & Other Tales

This image-rich book contains over 50 stories of famous shipwrecks and rescues around New England lighthouses, and also tales of hauntings.

You'll find more details and imagery in the story of the "Portland Gale" named after the destruction from the "perfect storm" mentioned above that caused so much damage and loss of life, and the sinking of the great steamship Portland.

You'll find this book and my lighthouse tourism books from the publisher Schiffer Books, or in many fine bookstores like Barnes and Noble.


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