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Lighthouses on Martha's Vineyard

Page history last edited by Valerie Becker 10 years ago

The Five Lighthouses of Martha’s Vineyard



There are five lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard.  They are Cape Poge Lighthouse on Chappaquiddick Island; Edgartown Lighthouse in Edgartown;  East Chop Lighthouse in Oak Bluffs, West Chop Lighthouse in Vineyard Haven and Gay Head Lighthouse in Aquinnah.


All lighthouses have a daymark and a characteristic.  A daymark is the lighthouse’s color that sailors see during the day.  The characteristic is the lighthouse’s flashing pattern.  Some lighthouses flash and some lighthouses rotate and flash.


by Violet and Emily


Cape Poge Lighthouse


Chappaquiddick, MA

Daymark:  Round, White Tower With a Red Door and a Black Gallery

Characteristic:  White Light Flashing Every 6 Seconds

Height:  65 Feet

Interesting Information:  To get to Cape Poge Lighthouse, you have to drive on the beach.  It was built in 1801.  Then, it had to be moved inland because of a hurricane. It has 32 steps. Cape Poge Lighthouse guides boats into Edgartown Harbor.

by Carly and Liam


Edgartown Lighthouse

Edgartown, MA

Daymark:  Round, White Tower With a Black Gallery and Black Trim

Characteristic:  Red Light Flashing Every 6 Seconds

Height:  45 Feet

Interesting Information:  Originally the lighthouse keeper had to row out to Edgartown Lighthouse.  Then, they built a bridge.  Today you have to walk over a jetty.  The very first lighthouse keeper’s name was Jeremiah Pease.  Every year, at Edgartown Lighthouse, there is a memorial celebration for children that have died.  

by Anya and Delilah

East Chop Lighthouse


Vineyard Haven, MA

Daymark:  Round Metal, White Tower With  a Black Gallery

Characteristic:  Green Light Flashing Every 3 Seconds

Height:  40 Feet

Interesting Information:  It was the fifth lighthouse build on Martha’s Vineyard.  East Chop Lighthouse was built in 1875.  The lighthouse keeper’s cottage was painted brown.  People called it the Chocolate House.

by Solon and Lucas

West Chop Lighthouse


Oak Bluffs, MA

Daymark:  Round, White Brick Tower With  a Black Gallery

Characteristic:  White Light Flashing Every 4 Seconds

Height:  45 Feet

Interesting Information:  The first lighthouse keeper was named James Shaw West.  It was originally built in 1817 and then it was rebuilt in 1891.  The fog signal is one blast every thirty seconds.

By JoJo and Alyssa

Gay Head Lighthouse


Aquinnah, MA

Daymark:  Red Brick Tower With Black Gallery and Trim

Characteristic:  Rotating Red and White Light Flashing Every 15 Seconds

Height:  51 Feet

Interesting Information:  The Gay Head Lighthouse was built in 1856.  Gay Head was one of the first lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard to have a Fresnel Lens.  The last lighthouse keeper was Arthur Bettencourt and he worked until 1956.

by Gregory and Julianne



The Fresnel Lens



The Fresnel Lens was invented by Augustin Fresnel in 1822.  It help improve lighthouses.  The Fresnel Lens helps sailors see better at night.  It saved a lot of sailors at sea.  


The Fresnel Lens is made of glass and prisms.  It has a magnifying glass in the middle.  The Fresnel Lens can rotate.  The color could be changed by putting red or green glass in front of the lens.  


There is a Fresnel Lens at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.  It was used at the Gay Head Lighthouse and it was one of the first Fresnel Lens in the United States.  


The most important thing about the Fresnel Lens is that it can make the light shine farther out in the ocean, up to 20 miles!


by Madeline and Rammon






Lighthouses are very important because they save people’s lives.  Lighthouses are important because they save boats from being shipwrecked.  There were about 90 shipwrecks off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard before there were lighthouses.


Lighthouse keepers worked hard.  Sometimes they had to work day and night. They had to take care of the lighthouse, take care of their family and save lives at sea.  Lighthouse keepers had to be very brave.  They also had to be very smart and strong.


by Morgan and Jason


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