Chatham Light

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Chatham Light
Chatham Light MA.jpg
Chatham Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station
Chatham Light is located in Massachusetts
Chatham Light
Location Chatham, Massachusetts
Coordinates 41°40′16.704″N 69°57′.554″W / 41.67130667°N 69.95015389°W / 41.67130667; -69.95015389Coordinates: 41°40′16.704″N 69°57′.554″W / 41.67130667°N 69.95015389°W / 41.67130667; -69.95015389
Year first constructed 1808
Year first lit 1877 (current structure)
Automated 1982
Foundation Concrete
Construction Cast iron plate with brick lining
Tower shape Conical
Markings / pattern White with gray lantern
Focal height 80 feet (24 m)
Original lens 4th order Fresnel lens
Current lens Carlisle & Finch DCB-224
Range 24 nautical miles (44 km; 28 mi)
Characteristic Fl (2) W 10s, lighted continuously
Fog signal none
Admiralty number J0394
ARLHS number USA-158
USCG number

1-525 [1] [2] [3]

Chatham Light Station
Location Main St., Chatham, Massachusetts
Area 2 acres (0.81 ha)
Built 1877
Part of Old Village Historic District (#01001406)
MPS Lighthouses of Massachusetts TR
NRHP Reference #


Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 15, 1987
Designated CP December 17, 2001

Chatham Lighthouse, known as Twin Lights prior to 1923, is a lighthouse in Chatham, Massachusetts, near the "elbow" of Cape Cod.

The station was established in 1808, the second light on Cape Cod. To distinguish it from Highland Light, the first Cape Cod light, and to act as a range, twin octagonal 40-foot (12 m) wooden towers were built. They were on skids so that they could be moved to keep them in line with the entrance channel as it shifted. Samuel Nye was appointed as the first Keeper of the Chatham Lights by President Jefferson on October 7, 1808.

  • 1841 The wood octagons were replaced with 40-foot (12 m) brick towers
  • 1857 Fourth order Fresnel lens installed
  • 1879 Current structures, of brick lined cast iron, were built
  • 1923 Northern tower of the pair was moved roughly 12 miles (19 km) north to become Nauset Light
  • 1939 Chatham Light, which had been kerosene fueled since 1882, was electrified
  • 1969 Fresnel lens was replaced with a Carlisle & Finch DCB-224 rotating light generating over 2.8 million candlepower
  • 1969 Lantern replaced
  • 1982 Automated.

Today, the former keeper's house is an active U.S. Coast Guard station, and on-duty personnel living quarters. Search and Rescue, maritime law enforcement, and Homeland Security missions are carried out here. Flotilla 11-01 of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary operates from this station.[5]

Chatham Light was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Chatham Light Station on June 15, 1987, reference number 87001501.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

The Chatham Lighthouse is featured in the film The Finest Hours depicting the US Coast Guard’s rescue of the SS Pendleton in 1952 off the coast of Chatham. All four of the Coast Guard crew received the Coast Guard’s Gold Lifesaving Medal.[6]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: Massachusetts". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. 
  2. ^ Light List, Volume I, Atlantic Coast, St. Croix River, Maine to Shrewsbury River, New Jersey (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2009. p. 7. 
  3. ^ Rowlett, Russ (2009-09-07). "Lighthouses of the United States: Southeast Massachusetts". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
  4. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  5. ^ "USCG Motor Lifeboat Station Chatham". US Coast Guard. 
  6. ^ Gillespie, Craig (29 January 2016). "The Finest Hours (2016)". The Finest Hours (2016) - Plot Summary. Walt Disney Studios Publicity. Retrieved 10 September 2016.