Thacher Island Lights
Cyberlights Lighthouses - Thacher Island Lights  

Thacher Island South Quick Facts

Year Station Established: 1771

Is the Light operational? Yes

Year Light First Lit: 1861

Year Automated: 1979

Shape: Conical

Tower Height: 124   ft.

Original Optic: 1st Order, Fresnel

Present Optic: VRB-225, Solar

Existing Keepers Quarters? Yes
     Year Constructed: 1816
      Number of Stories: 2.5
      Architectural Style: Greek
      Construction Materials: Brick

Thacher Island North Quick Facts

Year Station Established: 1771

Is the Light operational? Yes

Year Light First Lit:

Year Automated:

Shape: Conical

Tower Height: 124   ft.

Original Optic: 1st Order, Fresnel

Present Optic: 200mm

Existing Keepers Quarters?

         Cyberlights Lighthouses

Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses
Gloucester, MA

Cyberlights Lighthouses - Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses

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(16 photos, 336KB total download)

Last Visited: April, 2002

Thacher Island was sighted by Champlain in 1605, by Captain John Smith in 1614, and by how many more before that, nobody knows.

The name comes from a shipwreck described as "pathetic" by historians. A small boat out of Ipswich , bound for Marblehead , was caught in the Great Storm of August, 1635, and was dashed to pieces on the rocks of the Island . Of the twenty-three passengers and crew, only Anthony Thacher and his wife survived, watching helplessly as their children and friends were swept away.

On September 3, 1635 , the General Court voted Thacher 40 Marks. Also, in 1636-37, the General Court voted to grant Thacher the Island "at the head of Cape Ann , as his inheritance."

In 1717, the Island was sold by John Appleton (an heir of Thacher ), of Ipswich , to the Reverend John White - 30 acres, more or less, for 100 pounds.

In 1726-27 the Reverend John White sold to Joseph Allen for 175 pounds. This was Joseph Allen, Jr. who owned it at his death in 1750.

In 1771, the Colonial Government bought it back for 500 pounds. The same year, the twin lighthouses were erected and lighted for the first time on December Twenty-first.

The present 123-foot granite towers were completed in 1861 raising the lights to 166 feet above sea level. In 1888 the Town of Rockport adopted the Seal of the Island as its official seal.

Early in this century, four families lived on the Island , to run the lighthouses and fog whistles. Descendants of these families still live in Rockport.

The north light was shut off in 1932, as an economy measure. The Coast Guard, which had manned the Island for many years, removed its last crew of four men in 1980. At that time, the south light and the fog whistle had become automated, and the Town of Rockport took over the Island by lease from the U. S. Coast Guard.

In 1983, the Thacher Island Association was formed as a non-profit organization to support and encourage historic preservation and restoration of the structures on the Island . The Association financed the design and construction of a custom made aluminum launch, a mini landing craft, to provide access to the Island .

Major restoration work was completed in 1988 on the once abandoned North Tower it was relit and approved as a private aid to navigation. A 15 watt fluorescent lamp replicates the amber light of the original oil lamp and can be seen for almost eight miles.

Source: Thacher Island Association

Although the island may be viewed from the shore, the best view is from the water. There are various lighthouse tours that go past the lighthouses, and the Thacher Island Association also has trips out to the lighthouse.

Latitude/Longitude: 42.636966,-70.575691

Nearest Address: 10 Old Penzance Rd, Rockport, MA

  • From Gloucester, take Route 127A north.
  • Take a right onto Penzance Road. There is a triangle at the intersection.
  • Follow Penzance Road until you get to OLD Penzance Road. Take a left onto OLD Penzance Road.
  • Park at the end of the road.

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