Chatham Lighthouse (Twin Lights), Chatham, Massachusetts
Location: WEST SIDE OF CHATHAM HARBOR, NEAR CHATHAM, MASSACHUSETTS
Station Established: 1808
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1877
Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
Construction Materials: CAST IRON PLATE WITH BRICK LINING
Tower Shape: CONICAL
Markings/Pattern: WHITE WITH BLACK LANTERN
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPERATE
Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER FRESNEL LENS
* In 1808, a second light was built on Cape Cod. To distinguish the new light station from Holland Light, twin towers where built in Chatham. Two 40-feet, wooden, octagonal towers were built. The towers were on wooden skids so they could be moved as the channels shifted. These were “range lights” meaning the lights lined up to mark the safe channel. If ships could not line up the lights, they were in danger of running aground.
* In 1841 the wooden towers were replaced by 40-feet brick towers. In 1857 the towers were fitted with Fourth Order Fresnel Lens.
* As is the case in most coastal areas, erosion was a huge problem. In just 38 years, the towers were lost to the sea. Luckily the lenses were removed before the towers slid into the sea.
* The third set of twins was built in 1879. They were constructed of iron and brick. The new towers were fitted with the lenses from the previous towers.
* In 1923 the north tower was relocated to Nauset, Massachusetts, ending the 115 years of service of the twins at Chatham. The lantern and Fresnel lens were removed in 1969 and a modern optical was installed. Erosion still threatens the light.
* The light is an active aid to navigation and is not open to the public. The original lens and lantern are on display at the Old Atwood House and Museum of the Chatham Historical Society.
Researched and written by Melissa Buckler, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.