Brant Point Light in Nantucket, Massachusetts – By the mid-18th century, Nantucket’s whaling industry was booming. While this was tremendous for trade and commerce, it also meant that the ships coming into the harbor needed guidance to navigate Brant Point, a narrow area that all ships had to pass through to enter the inner harbor of the island. The Brant Point Lighthouse is only the second one to have been built during colonial times. Since its construction, it has been renovated and physically moved more than any of the other lighthouses in the entire country.
The current lighthouse at Brant Point is ninth in succession. The original lighthouse met with destruction via a fire in the mid-1750s, and a horrific storm in 1774 knocked down the second one. Another fire claimed the third in 1783 and, not wanting to invest more funds, the fourth one was nothing more than an oil lantern held in place by two joists. This “lighthouse” also fell to fire just three years later.
A fifth was also destroyed by storm after having lasted only two short years. The townspeople simply didn’t have the funds to continuously rebuild their necessary lighthouse, so in 1788 they gave the land and the responsibility to Massachusetts’ Commonwealth who built the sixth lighthouse. The Commonwealth gave this lighthouse over to the government in the late 18th century. In 1825, the government built a stronger lighthouse and home for the keeper, replacing the one that the Commonwealth had built.
An eighth lighthouse was constructed in 1856 and towered nearly fifty feet into the sky, topped with a lens by Fresnel. Due to the shifting nature of the channel, the use of the lighthouse was discontinued at the beginning of the 20th century and, while it still stands, the lights and lenses have been removed.
On the northern end of Nantucket, the lighthouse is right at the edge of the water at the end of Easton Street, and sits atop a sliver of sand that forms the entryway to the harbor. The lighthouse is now operated by the United States Coast Guard and is used today to aid in navigation. The lighthouse itself is thus is not open to the public; however, you are allowed to visit the grounds and there are tours.
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