Nobska Light, a shining beacon in storm tossed seas
|In 1828 after 10,000 ships passed by Nobska Point in Woods Hole in a single year, a light was built and placed atop a keeper's house. The original lamp was replaced by a 5th order Fresnel lens in 1856. This house was replaced in 1876 when the present light was constructed, and the Fresnel lens was moved into the new tower until it was replaced by a new larger 4th order lens in 1888. This lens has been in use ever since|
|Nobska light as it appears today, is still an active Coast Guard aid to navigation. This beautiful beacon guards the juncture of Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, and the entrance to Woods Hole Passage, a dangerous rock filled channel. The keepers house (1876) and assistant keeper's house (1905) were combined in 1985 to make a home for the Commander, Group Woods Hole. A radio-beacon tower was erected in 1937 and broadcast in Morse Code, "NP" on 324 KHz for 1 minute every 6 minutes. It was used to triangulate bearings with Cleveland Ledge Light in Buzzards Bay and Butler Flats Light in New Bedford. The present tower was built in 1948. The signals were turned off in 1994|
|A close up view of the current light source, a 250 watt halogen bulb. This was installed in early 2001 and replaced a 1,000 watt tungsten bulb. There are 4 bulbs because this, as are all United States lighthouses, is fully automated. If the vertical bulb burns out, the mechanism rotates 90 degrees and another bulb immediately takes over, flashing once every 6 seconds. If the electricity fails, there is a battery operated strobe on the outside railing that takes over functioning as the light until power is restored|
|A view of the inside of the 4th order Fresnel lens from below, with the light bulb at the focal point of the lens|
|A piece of red glass is placed inside one of the windows to warn mariners of the dangerous shoals, L'Hommedieu and Hedge Fence, located in waters southeast of the light. The width of the glass was cut to precise dimensions to cast a red light over a 26 degree arc to encompass these shoals. The top of the house and radio tower can be seen through the red glass.|
|A detail of the top of one of the posts on the outside railing. It is said that there are only three lighthouses that have these small solid lighthouses on their railings, Nobska in Massachusetts, and 2 lights in Maine. It is not known when or why these were added. The view is toward the west and part of Woods Hole and Woods Hole Passage can be seen in the distance. On a clear day, one can see New Bedford, Massachusetts on the far horizon across Buzzards Bay.|
Photos courtesy of FARA member Tom Burt, N1TB, black & white photo from
"Book of Falmouth"
Thanks also to FARA member and Director, John Gould, KB1HJO, who is also an Officer in the CG Aux, Woods Hole Flotilla, for supplying the captions. John, KB1HJO, is the Auxiliary Lighthouse Keeper for Boston Light and he activated that light this year as N1L. A most appropriate call sign since it is was the first lighthouse in the US and is the last CG manned light in the country.