Billingsgate Island Light

Nov. 5, 2019

Billingsgate Island Light (Bellingsgate Island Light), Billingsgate Island, Cape Cod, Wellfleet, Massachusetts


Location: On Billingsgate Island, westerly side of and near the entrance to Wellfleet Harbor, westerly side of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Station Established: 1822
Operational: No
Automated: No
Deactivated: It was destroyed by a storm in 1915
Foundation: Granite
Construction Materials: Brick
Tower Shape: Square
Markings: Red tower with a black lantern room
Relationship to other structures: – separate
Original Lens: 1822
Tower Height: 40 Feet
Range: –12 miles
Original Optic: 8 Oil Lamps with reflectors Then in the new tower in 1858 a Fourth Order Fresnel Lens was lit.
Present Optic: No longer exists
Characteristics: Fixed white light
Current Use: No longer exists
Fog Signal: None

Historical Information:

* On July 9, 1822 the government purchased 4 acres from Elijah Cobb for $100 and a brick Lighthouse and Winslow Lewis on the southern end of Billingsgate Island built keepers house.
* In 1855 a storm and erosion split the island in half and threatened the lighthouse. A new 39-foot brick house was built on higher ground on the north end of the island. The new light was lit on September 1 1858. It had the fourth order fersnel lens. It was 41 feet above sea level.
* In 1888 a 1000-foot sea wall and bulkhead was built to help with the erosion. Instead of helping it did the opposite. It sped up the erosion.
* In 1915 the last lighthouse keeper removed the Lamp and the lens before abandoning the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse and tower were destroyed by a severe storm on December 26,1915.
* A skeleton tower light was erected to mark the remains of the island. In 1922 the Light was decommissioned and the island became completely submerged by 1942. Today, Billingsgate shoal appears briefly as an island only at low tide. Today lighted buoys mark the island.

Researched and written by Linda Herman, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.