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The Edgartown Harbor Light, Martha's Vineyard by Ella Derbyshire

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
Ella Derbyshire Ella Derbyshire
Explore score
Print Pricing
$56.00 to $174.00
0.26 Gigapixels
Date added
May 29, 2011
Date taken
May 15, 2011

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

architectural, environmental, geology, landscape, nature

An Edgartown Harbor Light has stood here guarding the entrance to Edgartown Harbor and Katama Bay since 1828. The original light was a 5 room, 2 story house with a constant white light shining from the lantern on its roof. The house stood on stone pilings and was completely surrounded by water. The lighthouse keeper needed to row a short distance to get to land to do his shopping. A long wooden causeway to the lighthouse was built in 1830. It was called “The Bridge of Sighs” by local seamen who walked to the lighthouse with their wives and girlfriends who remained at home while the men were at sea. The Bridge of Sighs was replace by a stone causeway in 1847. Both the wooden and the stone causeway required frequent repairs, and incurred substantial cost. However, nature will often take charge of landscapes, and the sand that surrounds the lighthouse was brought here by the wind and the tides, which are so efficient that the lighthouse is now on this small sandy island with its very attractive shell-strewn beach.

In the mid-19th Century, Fresnel lenses replaced many of the optics in New England lighthouses. A fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed in the Edgartown Lighthouse in 1856, and it was still shining in 1938 when a hurricane severly damaged the little wooden house with its Fresnel lens on the roof.

The hurricane brought many changes to the harbor light. In 1939 the United States Coast Guard took over the light, demolished the remains of the old wooden lighthouse and brought to Edgartown a discontinued 45-foot tall conical cast iron tower from Crane’s Beach in Ipswich where it had stood since 1881, serving as the Ipswich Rear Range Light. The reused tower received a modern red flashing beacon that was fully automated. With that change, a full time lighthouse keeper was no longer needed at Edgartown. The current fully automated, 250mm plastic light was installed in 1990 and it was converted to solar power in 1994. It still flashes a red light every 6 seconds to guide ships into the harbor. On summer days there is once again a lighthouse keeper at the Edgartown Harbor Light. Instead of lighting wicks and handling whale oil or kerosene, the lighthouse keeper gives tours and assists people who are visiting the grounds.

This lighthouse sits on the same pilings as the original wooden lighthouse of 1828. The base has been repaired and renovated many times over the decades. The latest restoration in 1991 involved the creation of The Martha’s Vineyard Children’s Lighthouse Memorial. The granite foundation of the tower was enlarged and per design is paved with 2000 granite cobblestones that can bear the names of children who have died.

The United States Coast Guard still owns the lighthouse, which has been managed by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum since 1994. The grounds around the lighthouse are open year round. The tower is open to the public during select hours from late May to mid-October.

The 36 images of this panorama were photographed with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and stitched with Autopano pro.

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