History of Chatham Lighthouse
Samuel Nye was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson as the first keeper and was provided with a one-bedroom house. Thirty years later the towers had deteriorated so that it was dangerous to ascend them in windy weather. Realizing this condition the Treasury Department appropriated $6,750 for construction of two brick towers in 1841, with a brick keeper's house between them. Collins Howes,
In 1857 the lights received fourth-order Fresnel lenses, each showing a fixed white light that was fueled by lard.
The most notable keeper was Josiah Hardy, who served from 1872 to 1900. In 1875 Hardy reported serious erosion of the bank in front of the lights, and by 1877 the towers were only 48 feet from the edge. The same year two 44 foot cast iron towers with brick interiors were erected. On December 15, 1879, the old south tower tumbled to the beach below, and 15 months later the north tower followed it. In the 1880's, Keeper Hardy told two boys who were playing by the lights that he had seen as many ships as there are days in the year pass by on that day.
With the advent of rotating lights in the early 20th century, twin lights were no longer necessary. In 1923 the north light was moved to Eastham to replace the last of the three sisters, and the remaining tower was fitted with
In 1969 the Fresnel lens and the lantern room were removed, and replaced by a larger lantern that could accommodate modern rotating aero beacons that have 2.8 million candlepower.
Installed in 1994, the present light display two white lights every 10 seconds that can be seen 24 nautical miles at sea.
The light house complex also serves as headquarters for the Coast Guard Station Chatham, whose responsibility includes the water from Truro south to halfway between Monomoy Island and Nantucket, then west into Nantucket Sound, and north to Hyannis.
Station Chatham is notable for the daring rescue of February 18, 1952, when the tanker Pendelton broke in two during a violent snow storm. The crew of CG36500, led by Bernard Webber, braved near impossible conditions to rescue 32 crew members from the stern section.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Landmarks • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #12 Zachary Taylor, and the Lighthouses series lists.
Location. 41° 40.28′ N, 69° 56.964′ W. Marker is in Chatham, Massachusetts, in Barnstable County
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Mayflower Story (within shouting distance of this marker); U.S. Coast Guard Steel 44-Foot Motor Life Boat CG44301 (within shouting distance of this marker); Original Prop (within shouting distance of this marker); The Rescue of the Pendleton (within shouting distance of this marker); Captain Mayo / Surfman Ellis (within shouting distance of this marker); The Battle of Chatham Harbor (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Chatham Packet Wharf (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Godfrey Windmill (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chatham.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on February 18, 2013. This page has been viewed 528 times since then. Last updated on August 17, 2020, by Ray Gurganus of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on February 18, 2013, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.