Cape Ann Lighthouse

The Cape Ann lighthouse, located on Thacher Island about 40 miles north of Boston, is a lighthouse with some interesting history.

First of all, there is the matter of the island itself -- its name comes from Anthony Thacher, who was given the island in 1635. He and his wife had been the sole survivors of a shipwreck there in which 21 people -- including the Thacher's four children -- lost their lives.


Cape Ann's first lighthouse keeper, Captain Kirkwood, was removed from his position during the Revolutionary War because he was a Tory, a supporter of the British.

In 1919 the foghorn attached to the lighthouse at Cape Ann probably saved the life of President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was on his way back from Europe following the Versailles Peace Conference, which ended the First World War. His ship, the S.S. America, became lost in the fog and was inadvertently heading right for Thacher Island.

Just before an unthinkable catastrophe occurred, the Thacher Island foghorn alerted the captain to the ship's perilous position and he was able to change course.

The Cape Ann lighthouse is among the oldest lighthouses on the New England coast, having first become operational in 1771. Since its earliest days it has been a twin lighthouse -- that is, it is made up of two lighthouses separated by about 300 feet on the small rocky island.

The two 124-foot granite towers on Thacher Island date to 1861. The Bureau of Lighthouses discontinued the north light in 1939, however, so only the south tower remains active, producing a flashing red beacon.

Thacher Island, which is accessible only by boat, can be seen from the state highway near Rockport on Cape Ann.


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