On the inside “elbow” of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, there is a 7-mile long peninsula just north of Barnstable village.
Every ship entering the harbor of Barnstable had to negotiate the tricky tides and sand bars that surround the tip of this long strip of land called “Sandy Neck.” So important was this harbor, that the government built a Customs House building in the village to manage the great deal of commerce taking place in the 1800s. Because of the treacherous navigation around this point, the Government deemed it necessary in 1827 to establish a lighthouse on the tip end of the dunes and named it “Sandy Neck Light.”
Today this stretch of land consists of sand dunes and beaches, which are now protected and overseen by environmental agencies. Adjacent to the lighthouse are some two dozen or so summer cottages, which are difficult to get to, but their privacy is well guarded by their owners.
Sandy Neck Light remained operational until 1931 when the Government decommissioned the light, removed the lantern room, capped off the structure and sold the property to private ownership. This historic site now belongs to the Hinckley family and is managed by their nephew Ken Morton.
The light continues to be “topless” to this day. However, a group of individuals devoted to history has undertaken the plans to restore the light to its original condition. This involves totally fabricating a new lantern house from plans drawn up in order to mold new steel segments, exactly like the original. When assembled and completed, this new lantern will be flown by helicopter from the mainland and placed into position.
This small group of historians is known as the “Sandy Neck Lighthouse Restoration Committee” whose only purpose is to bring the old lighthouse back to original specs with as little disruption to the cottage owners as possible. If all goes well, the committee also hopes to restore the existing oil house.
Private donations have started the project on its way with a completion date of either late 2005 or early 2006. Hopefully, soon, thanks to the dedication of a small group of individuals, another historic lighthouse will be brought back to its original glory.
This story appeared in the
July 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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