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Race Point Lighthouse - Cape Cod, Massachusetts


Race Point Lighthouse

   

Race Point Lighthouse

Race Point Light is located approximately 2.5 miles from the heart of Provincetown, at the northwestern tip of the Cape. Due to the large number of shipwrecks in the area, Race Point Light was constructed in 1816 - the first of the three lighthouses in Provincetown. As in the Long Point area, a small settlement based upon fishing and saltworks emerged - dubbed "Helltown" by the locals. The settlement lasted until the later half of the 19th century.
 
In 1995, Race Point Light was leased to the New England Lighthouse Foundation, and the keepers house repaired and modernized with heat, hot water, flush toilets, refrigeration, and a gas stove. Overnight stays were initiated in 1998. A solar electrical system was installed in October 2003, and a wind turbine back generator up was added in 2007, making the use of a diesel generator unnecessary. The restored whistle house was opened to guests for week-long stays in 2008.
 
Race Point Lighthouse Tours
Mariner's weekend starts the '11 tour season! Join us at the Race Point Beach parking lot on Sunday May 15th for free transportation to the Light Station. Light refreshments will be served along with tours of all the structures. And wait until you see our "green energy" system! A wind turbine compliments the solar array providing all the electricity the Light Station needs. Tours begin at 10am and last until 3pm.

The Race Point Light Station will be open for anyone to tour the lighthouse on the first and third Saturdays from June until October. The lighthouse will be open from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
 

Race Point Lighthouse Keepers HouseRace Point Lighthouse Whistle House

   

History
As early as 1808, Provincetown’s residents asked for a lighthouse at Race Point. Travel was treacherous for vessels negotiating the bars near Race Point at Cape Cod’s northern tip. Race Point Light was first lighted on November 5, 1816. The rubblestone tower’s light was 25 feet above sea level, and was one of the earliest revolving lights - in an attempt to differentiate it from other lighthouses on Cape Cod.

In 1840, the Keeper’s house was built. In 1852 a fog bell was installed at Race Point. Three years later, a fourth order Fresnel lens was installed in the tower. In 1873, the bell was replaced by a steam-driven fog signal housed in a new building. A second Keeper’s dwelling was built in 1876.

By 1876, the old stone “tower” needed rebuilding, and was replaced by a 45-foot cast-iron lighthouse, lined with brick. The Fresnel lens was also installed. The original Keeper’s house was torn down, and a new dwelling built. A water cistern was added in 1877.
Three Keepers and their families lived at the lighthouse in the two separate Keeper’s houses. The children walked almost three miles over sand to school every day. In the 1930’s a Keeper named James Hinckley made the trip much quicker by customizing a Ford into a dune buggy; the trip now took just thirty minutes. We now use a newer form of dune buggy - a Suburban!

In 1957, Race Point Light was electrified. Three years later the 1874-Gothic Revival Keeper’s house was torn down, and the other house modernized. The light was automated in 1972. The Fresnel lens was replaced by a 190mm optic, and in 1994 the beacon and fog signal became solar-powered. The Keeper’s house remained boarded up for more than 20 years after the Coast Guard left and in 2003 became solar powered as well. In 2007 a wind turbine was added.

In 1995, the Keeper’s house and surrounding property was leased to the New England Lighthouse Foundation. Known for their work on other New England Lighthouses, International Chimney rebuilt the roof and chimney of the Keeper’s house. Master craftsman,Richard Davidson of Onset rebuilt much of the interior and exterior. Dana Green, of Green and Robinson, crafted the windows and doors for the lighthouse and Whistle house. Volunteers finished renovations, and the four-bedroom Keeper’s house opened for overnight stays.

Jim Walker, President of the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, reported a curious mystery in 1996. An American flag appeared on a temporary flag pole, put there by an unknown benefactor. After a bad storm, the flag was shredded; again, a new flag mysteriously took its place. The flag is now flown throughout the season, greeting guests from around the world as they arrive at Race Point.

Today, the Race Point Light optic is still an active aid to navigation, maintained by the Coast Guard. The Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation maintains all of the structures and grounds.
 
 

For More Information and Reservations
Race Point Lighthouse
P.O. Box 491
North Truro, MA 02652
Email: racepointlighthouse@comcast.net
Phone: 508-487-9930
 

 













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