Long Point Light

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Long Point Light
Long Point Light Station on June 27, 2010.
Long Point Light is located in Cape Cod
Long Point Light
Location Long Point, Provincetown, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°1′59.23″N 70°10′7.15″W / 42.0331194°N 70.1686528°W / 42.0331194; -70.1686528Coordinates: 42°1′59.23″N 70°10′7.15″W / 42.0331194°N 70.1686528°W / 42.0331194; -70.1686528
Year first constructed 1827
Year first lit 1875 (re-built tower)
Automated 1952
Foundation Natural, emplaced
Construction Brick
Tower shape Square tower
Markings / pattern White with black lantern
Height 38 feet (12 m)
Focal height 35.5 feet (10.8 m) above mean sea level
Original lens Oil Lamp (1826)
Sixth Order fresnel (1856)
Fifth order fresnel (1875)
Current lens Solar-powered 300 mm lantern (1982)
Intensity reduced to 29,000 candlepower (1927)
Range 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi)
Characteristic Oc G 4s (Green, occulting every 4 seconds)
Fog signal HORN: 1 blast ev 15 seconds (2s bl)
Admiralty number J0382
ARLHS number USA-450
USCG number


Long Point Light Station
1909 long pt postcard.jpg
1909 Postcard showing Long Point Light
Built 1875
Architect Unknown
Governing body COAST GUARD
MPS Lighthouses of Massachusetts TR
NRHP Reference # 87002039[2]
Added to NRHP September 28, 1987

Long Point Light Station is an historic lighthouse at the end of Long Point in Provincetown, Massachusetts, at the southwest side of the entrance to Provincetown Harbor. The United States Coast Guard Light List[1] describes it simply as a "White square tower". The actual light is 36 feet (11 m) above mean sea level . Its green light is visible for 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi).


By an act of Congress on May 18, 1826, the United States Government earmarked $2,500 (roughly $52,000 today[3]) to acquire 4 acres (1.6 ha) at the extreme tip of Long Point, and to construct the lighthouse, which was completed in 1827.[4][5] Established to guide mariners into the bustling fishing port of Provincetown Harbor, the original Long Point Light Station consisted of a lantern room on top of a wooden keeper's house (see photo in gallery, below).

The lantern was lit by a sixth-order Fresnel lens in 1856. By 1873, a lighthouse inspector's report noted the poor condition of the light station and expressed concern that a strong storm could carry it away. Shortly thereafter, the Lighthouse Board constructed the present 38-foot (12 m) tall, square, brick lighthouse and a one-and-one-half-story keeper's dwelling in 1875. A larger, fifth-order Fresnel lens topped the square tower and a 1,200-pound (540 kg) fog bell was installed. The station received an oil house for properly storing flammable materials used for illumination in 1904.[6]

Long Point Light underwent automation in 1952, and a modern optic replaced the Fresnel lens. In 1982, Long Point Light became the second lighthouse in Massachusetts to be equipped with solar panels, to power the light and fog signal equipment. The abandoned keeper's dwelling and fog signal building were demolished around the same time.[6]

The Long Point Light Station was added to the National Historic Register in 1987. The light and its 1904 oil house are the only structures left on Long Point, which is now part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

The village of Long Point[edit]

Main article: Long Point (Cape Cod)

From its inception in 1827 until the late 1850s, the lighthouse shared the peninsula with a thriving village of Long Point. By 1830, the lighthouse became the site of Long Point's first school, starting with only three children.[7] The village grew to include the homes of 38 fishing families, a schoolhouse with up to 60 children, a post office, bakery, boat landings, breakwaters, and several saltworks which utilized windmills to pump seawater.[8]

For various reasons, the settlement was ultimately disbanded. Most of the families took their houses with them when they left — the houses were placed on rafts and floated across the harbor to Provincetown's West End. Several of those historic "floater" homes are still standing, and can be identified by looking for the distinctive blue and white plaques.[8]

The Light in 2009. Note the mound to the left; remains of the Civil War's Long Point Battery.

The Long Point Battery[edit]

Main article: Long Point (Cape Cod)

Around the middle of the American Civil War, in 1863, the Union Army constructed fortifications called the Long Point Battery. It consisted of two earthwork artillery batteries, with a total of nine 32-pound (15 kg) guns between them, plus a barracks to house a company of 98 soldiers, an officer's quarters, and stables.[9]

The base was operational until 1872, but never saw any combat action[9] – as a result, local residents took to calling the batteries "Fort Useless" and "Fort Ridiculous".[4][10]

Present Day[edit]

Currently the U.S. Coast Guard owns and controls Provincetown's three lighthouses (Long Point Light, Wood End Light, and Race Point Light). It is leased to[11] and maintained by the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation. The grounds are open to the public, and the lighthouse tower is closed.

In December 2009, preservationists proposed to rebuild the keeper's house as a bed and breakfast similar to the operation at Race Point. The Coast Guard's lease is due to expire in 2015, and local officials speculate that the property could be turned over to the National Park Service, which maintains and operates the National Seashore.[12]



  1. ^ a b Light List, Volume I, Atlantic Coast, St. Croix River, Maine to Shrewsbury River, New Jersey (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2012. p. 114. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  3. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Historical Timeline of Provincetown, Massachusetts" (PDF). Town of Provincetown. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Long Point, MA". lighthousefriends.com. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Long Point Light". Maritime History of Massachusetts, a National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary. National Park Service. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Jennings, Herman A. (1890). Provincetown or Odds and Ends From the Tip End. Peaked Hill Press. p. 78. 
  8. ^ a b Gehrman, Elizabeth (5 August 2007). "Solitude, sunscreen, and a long stretch of sand (almost) all to yourself". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Conclusions and Recommendations for the former Long Point Battery, Provincetown, MA; Project Number D01MA054901" (PDF). Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites Ordnance and Explosive Waste. US Army Corps of Engineers. January 1997. Retrieved 25 May 2012. 
  10. ^ Cunningham, Michael (2002). Land's end: a walk through Provincetown (1st ed. ed.). New York: Crown journeys. p. 37. ISBN 9780609609071. Retrieved 15 May 2012. "... as volunteers stood guard day after day and night after night over an uncontested stretch of salt water, the fortresses came to be known as Fort Useless and Fort Ridiculous." 
  11. ^ "Inventory of Historic Lighthouses-- Massachusetts-- Long Point Light". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  12. ^ Sowers, Pru (28 December 2009). "Provincetown lighthouse restoration project moves ahead". The Provincetown Banner. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 

Attribution  This article incorporates public domain material from the National Park Service document "Maritime History of Massachusetts, a National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary -- Long Point Light" (retrieved on 2012-03-03).

External links[edit]