Breakwater to Wood End Lighthouse

by Lynda June. 14, 2008 2334 views

After reaching Wood End Lighhouse you can continue walking across the sand to Long Lighthouse."

I've never seen the water roll over the rocks.

??Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships.?

Charles Simic

Start out here —

Looking down from the breakwater—

“The breakwater in the west end of town was built in 1911 to prevent quantities of sand from washing into the harbor. ”

At high tide and if the weather's inclement the water can come up to the top of the rocks.

Standing on the breakwater and looking back to town. (It's about a 1.2 mile walk on the rocks to a deserted beach—and then to the lighthouse.)

The day was calm and we walked early before anyone else was on the rocks. Eventually we did meet up with a few people—but not many.

I spotted the fleet footed animal.

Looking down at the sea.

Wood End Lighthouse.

"In his book Cape Cod, Henry David Thoreau described the harbor at Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod:

The Harbor of Provincetown… is deservedly famous. It opens to the south, is free of rocks, and is never frozen over… It is the harbor of the Cape and of the fishermen of Massachusetts generally.

The first two lighthouses in the vicinity, at Race Point and Long Point, were established by 1826. By the 1860s, it was determined that another aid was needed at Wood End, the southernmost extremity of the curving spit of land that protected the harbor. A white pyramidal day beacon was first erected at Wood End in 1864, and Congress appropriated $15,000 for a lighthouse on June 10, 1872.

A 38-foot brick tower – originally painted brown – was erected, and the light went into service on November 20, 1872. A fifth-order Fresnel lens exhibited a red flash every 15 seconds, 45 feet above the sea. A keeper's dwelling was built about 50 feet northeast of the lighthouse. The first keeper, Thomas Lowe, remained at the station for 25 years.

In spite of the three lighthouses around Provincetown, wrecks still occurred with some regularity. Lowe occasionally had to make hasty trips to town to awaken sleeping citizens to help with the rescue of shipwreck victims. A lifesaving station had been established at Race Point in 1872, and one was finally added at Wood End in 1896, a short distance east of the light station.

In 1896, a new wood-frame keeper's house was built, along with a storage shed and a small brick oil house for the storage of kerosene. New machinery for the revolving lens was installed in 1900. Two years later, a 1,000-pound fog bell and bell tower were added near the lighthouse.

Eight days before Christmas in 1927, the Navy submarine S-4 and the Coast Guard cutter Paulding collided a half mile south of Wood End Light. 40 men on the S-4 died in the disaster. The S-4 was raised three months later and was used to help devise greater safety measures for future submarines.

During a stretch of severe cold in February 1935, Keeper Douglas Shepherd was marooned at the light station for weeks. The Boston Globe reported:

Keeper Shepherd has struggled vainly to break through the arctic expanse that extends for miles beyond his light. Several times he has attempted it, using axe and crowbar to attack the ice blocks in his path, but each time he has been forced to turn back.

Ordinarily, Shepherd made a daily trip into town. He had no worries despite his isolation, according to the newspaper report, as the Coast Guard kept him in touch with the mainland.

“The lighthouse was automated in 1961 and all the other buildings except the oil house were destroyed. The lighthouse's original lens had been replaced by a fifth-order lens in 1916, and this was replaced by a modern optic when the light was automated. The light was converted to solar power in 1981.

You can walk to Wood End Light across the breakwater built in 1911, but breaking waves sometime make the going tricky at high tide. ”

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There are 21 comments, add yours!
Camille 9 years, 2 months ago

I can only keep silent to admire

9 years, 2 months ago Edited
Krystyna Knypl 9 years, 3 months ago


9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Liz 9 years, 3 months ago

I KNEW it was P-town as soon as I saw your title! Love P-town and love that lighthouse, and have crossed that breakwater many times. Thanks for the history lesson, some of that information was new to me. Great post!

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Harry Oldmeadow 9 years, 3 months ago

A wonderful walk and some interesting history — a very enjoyable post. Love the space in #1.

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
K C Ng 9 years, 3 months ago

Wow, beautiful set.
I especially love the first one :))

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Marsha 9 years, 3 months ago

These are very beautiful

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Robert Moffat 9 years, 3 months ago

Apologies, only just catching up. This is such a great series! Thanks.

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Ida 9 years, 3 months ago

wonderful :)

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Dzmitry Samakhvalau 9 years, 3 months ago

very beautiful set

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Lisa 9 years, 3 months ago

Wonderful set! I like how you bookended the post with the beach shot and then the lighthouse. A lot of history there. Thank you for sharing the east coast with this west coaster!

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Michka43 9 years, 3 months ago

great set, i like it

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Oldbabe 9 years, 3 months ago

Oh what a bunch of nice shots! I'd like to visit there and go for this walk.

I think I may have a painting of that lighthouse in my office. I will have to inspect further tomorrow! The reason I think so is because of that little house sitting to the left of it.

I've never been to a lighthouse, but the previous occupant of my office at work left the pictures hanging. Since I liked them and found them interesting I left them hanging there.

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Miclaud 9 years, 3 months ago

Extra!!! I like #5 perspective!

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Sojourner 9 years, 3 months ago

Looking at the fotos, I think, Henry David Thoreau is still right even until today.

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Mintra 9 years, 3 months ago

Lovely set.

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Marco Stefano Vitiello 9 years, 3 months ago


9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Péter Somogyvári 9 years, 3 months ago

Wonderful post!My fav #5!

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Eric J H Joyce 9 years, 3 months ago

Love them all.

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Carley 9 years, 3 months ago

I love the colors and the textures in these shots! They are gorgeous!

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Neo 9 years, 3 months ago

#5 is a nice shot...

9 years, 3 months ago Edited
Relee 9 years, 3 months ago

Wonderful set, I'm so glad you included the history, very interesting. Thank so much for sharing =)

9 years, 3 months ago Edited