The historic twin light station on Thacher Island, off the east side of Cape Ann in Massachusetts. is one of the small number of lighthouse sites in the U.S. that are designated National Historic Landmarks. In 1771, there were nine lighthouses in operation in North America. The original twin lighthouses built on Thacher Island in 1771 were the first built to mark a dangerous spot rather than a harbor entrance, and they were also the last lighthouses built under British rule in the colonies. The two granite towers that stand today, 124 feet tall, were built in 1861 and fitted with first-order Fresnel lenses. The north light was deactivated in 1932.
In the 1980s, concerned citizens of Cape Ann formed the Thacher Island Association and chose a caretaker to live on the island. The Town of Rockport’s Thacher Island Committee in partnership with the nonprofit Thacher Island Association maintains and operates the island, including both lighthouse towers.
This episode includes historic audio recorded in the 1980s, as well as audio from a recent visit to the island with co-host Sarah MacHugh. Sarah spoke with Syd Wedmore, chairman of the Thacher Island Town Committee.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org