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Provincetown :: Sunday, April 23rd 2017

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Lighthouses at Cape's End

Three Lighthouses from the 1800's in Provincetown

May 4th, 2006

Some structures can hardly be improved upon and the lighthouse seems to be one. Simple and solid in form, many of America’s lighthouses were built in the 1800’s and have only had to be refitted with a few pieces of new technology – more powerful lenses, louder foghorns, solar power – to continue their important duties on the coasts.

The Wood End and Long Point lighthouses are the very last structure's on the Cape's spiral end.

Thanks to its proximity to an area often referred to as an “ocean graveyard,” a section of coastline made treacherous by racing currents and rocky offshore shoals, Provincetown is blessed with three lighthouses that date back to the 19th century.

Closest to the “graveyard,” Race Point Lighthouse was the first lighthouse to be built at the end of the Cape in 1816. In 1876, its stone tower was replaced by a 45-foot cast-iron tower, which was reinforced with brick. Today Race Point Lighthouse is still used by the U.S. Coast Guard as a navigation aid. Although it’s still a functioning lighthouse, Race Point is opened to the public during the summer season. Its keeper’s house, built in 1840, is also available for overnight stays.

The U.S. Coast Guard also still uses Provincetown’s two other lighthouses, Wood End Lighthouse and Long Point Lighthouse. The very last standing structures on the Cape’s spiral end, they are in a unique position to guide ships safely into the Provincetown Harbor.

Wood End Lighthouse was built in 1872 and stands 39 feet proud. Long Point Lighthouse, which resides on the very tip of the Cape, was established as a station in 1826. Its tower was rebuilt in 1875 and measures 38 feet.

Although it’s not possible to tour their interiors, the sight of Wood End Lighthouse and Long Point Lighthouse poised in their solitary vigils at the end of the Cape is reward enough to their visitors.

To get close to Wood End and Long Point, you can head across Provincetown’s breakwater in the west end. But make sure you are prepared for a good hike. After you cross the breakwater, you will find Wood End and then you can continue along the Cape’s last land spit to Long Point. For those in the mood for a more leisurely adventure, there is a boat shuttle run by Flyer’s Boats to Long Point during the summer. Race Point Lighthouse can be reached by taking highway 6 to Race Point Road.

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