Thursday, June 30, 2011
The Cape Cod Light was originally erected in 1797 on a cliff in Truro standing 160 feet above a treacherous stretch of Atlantic shoreline. It was to be the first lighthouse in the nation with a flashing light - affected by means of a clockwork eclipser revolving around a multi-wick spider lamp - to help mariners distinguish it from the fixed beacon of Boston Light.
The original wooden tower was replaced with a round brick structure in the 1830s. A new lighting system of lamps and reflectors was installed during the following decade, during which the tower was substantially remodeled.
In 1857 the tower was rebuilt again, and a first order Fresnel lens installed. In 1901, an even larger Fresnel lens array standing 12-feet high and weighing over a ton was installed. This massive lantern floated in a bed of 600 pounds of mercury. Electric power was introduced in 1934, which created a beacon with 4,000,000 candlepower visible up to 75 miles in clear weather. This lens was replaced with high-wattage aero-beacons in the 1950s. Today, the current beacon (above) uses a tiny 110-watt lamp that is nonetheless visible for up to twenty-miles through the amplification provided by its Fresnel lenses.
In 1996, the lighthouse was moved 450-feet from its previous position due to cliff erosion. Today the lighthouse stands picturesquely in the middle of Cape Cod's oldest golf course.