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Nauset Light, officially Nauset Beach Light,[1] is a restored lighthouse on the Cape Cod National Seashore near Eastham, Massachusetts, erected in 1923 using the 1877 tower that was moved here from the Chatham Light. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tower is a cast iron plate shell lined with brick and stands 48 feet (15 m) high. The adjacent oil house (where fuel was stored in the early days) is made of brick and has also been restored. Fully automated, the beacon is a private aid to navigation. Tours of the tower and oil house are available in summer from the Nauset Light Preservation Society which operates, maintains and interprets the site.

Nauset Beach Light
Nauset Light, Eastham, MA, Cape Cod.jpg
Nauset Light, oil house and lightkeeper's home
Nauset Light is located in Cape Cod
Nauset Light
LocationNauset Beach, Eastham, Massachusetts
Coordinates41°51′36.5″N 69°57′10.6″W / 41.860139°N 69.952944°W / 41.860139; -69.952944Coordinates: 41°51′36.5″N 69°57′10.6″W / 41.860139°N 69.952944°W / 41.860139; -69.952944
Year first constructed1838
Year first lit1877 (current tower in Chatham)
1923 (current tower here)
now a private aid
ConstructionCast iron with brick lining
Tower shapeConical
Markings / patternUpper red, lower white with black lantern
Tower height48 feet (15 m)
Focal height120 feet (37 m)
Original lens4th order Fresnel lens
Current lensCarlisle & Finch DB-224
RangeWhite 24 nautical miles (44 km; 28 mi), Red 20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi)
CharacteristicAlt white and red 10s
Fog signalnone
Admiralty numberJ0396
ARLHS numberUSA-529
USCG number1-510.1[1][2][3]
Heritageplace listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata
Nauset Beach Light
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
Architectural styleGothic Revival
MPSLighthouses of Massachusetts TR
NRHP reference #87001484[4]
Added to NRHPJune 15, 1987


The tower that eventually became Nauset Light was constructed in 1877 as one of two towers in Chatham. It was moved to Eastham in 1923 to replace the Three Sisters of Nauset, three small wood lighthouses that had been decommissioned. They have since been relocated to a small field about 1,000 feet (300 m) west of the Nauset Light.[2] Nauset Light was originally all white, but in the 1940s, the top section of the tower was painted red, creating the iconic appearance.[5]

The light was automated and the keeper's house was sold in 1955. The original fourth-order Fresnel lens was removed in 1981 and replaced with aerobeacons.[6][7] The lens is on display in the Salt Pond Visitor Center of the Cape Cod National Seashore. In December 2008, the old-style bulbs in the aerobeacons were replaced with 400 watt metal halide bulbs.[8]

Due to coastal erosion, by the early 1990s Nauset Light was less than 50 feet (15 m) from the edge of the 70-foot (21 m) cliff on which it stood. In 1993, the Coast Guard proposed decommissioning the light. Following a great public outcry, the non-profit Nauset Light Preservation Society was formed and funded, and in 1995, it leased the lighthouse from the Coast Guard. The Society arranged for both the tower and the brick oil house to be relocated, in November 1996, to a location 336 feet (102 m) west of its original position – which by then was only 37 feet (11 m) from the cliff's edge. The move was accomplished successfully by International Chimney Corporation, which had moved the larger Highland Light a similar distance earlier that year, with assistance from Expert Movers and a consultant, Pete Friesen.[6][9][10]

The light was again lit on May 10, 1997. During the ceremony at that time, the Coast Guard transferred ownership of the lighthouse to the National Park Service, but the operation was assumed by the Nauset Light Preservation Society.[6][11]

In 1998, Mary Daubenspeck, who had owned the keeper's house since 1955, agreed to donate it to the National Park Service with the right to live in it for 25 years. It was agreed that the house would be moved from its original location, then only 23 feet (7 m) from the edge of the cliff, to a new location near the relocated tower. The move was completed in October 1998 by Gary Sylvester's Building Movers & Excavators.[7][12]

Lighthouse keepersEdit

The following individuals were keepers of this light after the tower was moved to Eastham from the Chatham Light in 1923.[7][13]

  • George I. Herbolt (1923–1932)
  • John Poyner (1932)
  • Allison G. Haskins (1932–1938)
  • Fred S. Vidler (1938–1942)
  • Eugene L. Coleman (1942–1950 or 1952, depending on the source)

Current statusEdit

Since May 24, 2004, when the Nauset Light Preservation Society signed a partnership agreement with the National Park Service (Cape Cod National Seashore), the Service has operated the light as a private aid to navigation while the Society has covered all expenses related to the site by selling memberships and through donations.[14] Visitors can tour the light and the oil house on Sundays from May to late October and also on Wednesdays during July and August.[6]

The lighthouse is the logo for Cape Cod Potato Chips. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 as Nauset Beach Light.[4][15]

See alsoEdit


  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. 2009. p. 7.
  2. ^ a b "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: Massachusetts". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.
  3. ^ Rowlett, Russ (2010-02-11). "Lighthouses of the United States: Southeast Massachusetts". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  4. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  5. ^ "Nauset Light". Cape Cod Lighthouses. Archived from the original on 2015-07-14.
  6. ^ a b c d "Nauset Light". The Nauset Light Preservation Society. Archived from the original on 24 January 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b c "Lighthouse Moves – Cape Cod National Seashore". Lighthouse Friends. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Season's Greetings from Eastham". Nauset Light. Nauset Light Preservation Society. December 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  9. ^ "Lighthouse Moves – Cape Cod National Seashore". Nauset Light Preservation Society. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  10. ^ Peter Rowlands (2009). Man on the Move: The Pete Friesen Story. Iuniverse Inc. p. 209. ISBN 1440159556. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Keeper's House On The Move". Nauset Light. Nauset Light Preservation Society. April 1998. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  12. ^ "Day 15 - Together Again". Nauset Light Keepers. Nauset Light Preservation Society. October 28, 1998. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  13. ^ "Nauset Light". Lighthouse Explorer. Foghorn Publishing. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Partnership Agreement signed". Nauset Light. Nauset Light Preservation Society. June 2004. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  15. ^ "Nauset Beach Light". National Register of Historic Places. 15 June 1987. Retrieved 29 March 2017.