In 1792, with ever-increasing maritime traffic around Cape Cod, the Massachusetts Humane Society and the Boston Marine Society requested that the governor of Massachusetts ask the U.S. Congress to fund a lighthouse “upon the High Land adjacent to Cape Cod Harbour.”
It took until 1796 to get work started. Ten acres of land at the Highlands were purchased from a Truro resident, Isaac Small, for $110—$100 for the land plus and $10 for the “right of passing” over Small’s adjoining land. A 45-foot, octagonal wooden tower, the first lighthouse on Cape Cod and the twentieth in the United States, was built about 500 feet from the edge of the bluff.
The cliff eroded at a rate of at least three feet a year until, by the early 1990s, the present lighthouse stood just over a hundred feet from the edge. In 1990 alone 40 feet were lost just north of the lighthouse. In 1996, the 404-ton lighthousewas moved to a site 450 feet back from its former location. Here it stands with mist fading, as the morning sun rises.
location north truro, cape cod, massachusets
photographer patrick e connolly