As part of Martha’s Vineyard off the Cape Cod coast, the Cape Poge Lighthouse is located in the northeast corner of Chappaquiddick Island. It is part of the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge. In 1987, the lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse is owned and operated by the Trustees of Reservations, but the light is operated by the United States Coast Guard. In the movie “Jaws”, as Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss swim to shore, the Cape Poge lighthouse appears on the right side of the screen. Visiting the lighthouse requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a 3.5-mile hike from Dike Bridge, or you can arrange to be picked up when you schedule a tour.
History of the Cape Poge Lighthouse
The original 35-foot, octagonal, wooden tower and the two-room keeper’s house were built on four acres in 1801 for $2,000, including $36 for the land. The lighthouse helped whaling ships navigate the Muskeget Channel and Cape Poge on their way to Edgarton Harbor. The original light was equipped with a spider lamp, which is a lamp with multiple arms and a light at the end of each arm. In 1812, the lamp was replaced with oil lamps and reflectors. It was turned off for several months during the War of 1812 after the British burned Washington. The keeper, Matthew Maybew, took the parts of the lamp four miles away and hid them in the basement of the home of Samuel Huxford in Chappaquiddick. In 1815, the light was relit, and the keeper’s house received an additional room in 1816.
By 1825, erosion had worn away half of the original four acres. Four more acres were purchased, and the lighthouse was moved by the keeper’s brother for $250. It was moved again in 1838 when again, thanks to erosion, the lighthouse was only 40 feet from the edge. Then, it was rebuilt in 1844 for $1,600. A walkway connecting the new tower to the keeper’s house. The house as enlarged around 1868. A fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed in 1857. By 1870, more erosion put the keeper’s house in danger, so, another four acres of land were purchased. A duplex was built for the keeper and an assistant keeper in 1880.
The current lighthouse was built 40 feet inland in 1893. Rather than build a new lantern room, a 35-foot high, 40-foot long staging was constructed, and the lantern room was moved from the old tower to the new tower in one day. The new lighthouse had to be moved 50 feet in 1907, 95 feet in 1922, 150 feet in 1960, and 500 feet in 1987. The 1987 move made the Cape Poge Lighthouse the first lighthouse moved by helicopter.
The light was changed from a solid white light to a red and white flashing light in 1898, which meant that every five or six hours a clockwork mechanism had to be wound. The new light had six flash panels and was a Chance Brothers fourth-order Fresnel lens from England. The lighthouse was automated in 1943, so the keeper’s house was no longer needed. It was used by the Coast Guard during World War II. Then, the keeper’s house was sold in 1954 and torn down. The light was replaced by a solar-powered, 12-inch, 300-millimeter lens that flashes a white light every six seconds. In 1997, the lantern room was removed and transported by helicopter to Falmouth, and then, by truck to New Bedford for cleaning and refurbishing. The project took two months. In 2001, a bicentennial celebration was held at the lighthouse.
Even with the lighthouse, there have been incidents around Cape Poge. The Hudson, a schooner, sank between the time of Mayhew’s death in December 1834 and the arrival of his replacement. It is unclear if the light was lit. Other reported shipwrecks in the area include the schooner, Sarah Lewis, in March 1853; a schooner, the Silver Bell, in 1856 on East Beach; the brig, Empire, in 1856; the schooner, Christiana, on Hawes Shoal on January 7, 1866; and a six-masted schooner, the Mertie B. Crowley off Wasque in 1910.
Location and Hours of Operation
Address: 59 Lighthouse Roadside, Edgarton, Massachusetts
Phone: (508) 627-3599
Hours of operation: The Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge is open daily from 5 am to 10 pm.
There are no accommodations directly connected to the Cape Poge Lighthouse or the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge. However, the Trustees of Reservations, who manages the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, have a cottage available to rent at the nearby Longpoint Wildlife Refuge, and camping is available at Dunes Edge Campground in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Hotels Near the Cape Poge Lighthouse
Address: 129 Main Street, Edgartown, Massachusetts
Phone: (508) 627-9655
Amenities Cable TV, WiFi
Awards: Editor’s Choice Award — Cape Code Travel Guide.
The house was built in 1860 by a Captain who retired from the whaling industry and remained in the family through the Captain’s granddaughter. In 1983, it was opened as an inn.
Vineyard Square Hotel and Suites
Address: 38 North Water Street, Edgartown, Massachusetts
Phone: (508) 627-4711
Rooms 34 rooms from one-bedroom to suites, including dog-friendly suites
Amenities Vineyard Square provides board games and cribs as well as an in-season continental breakfast, afternoon treats, in-room taffy, room service, complimentary bikes, and beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas to take to the beach. In addition, they have a 24-hour fitness center; a full-service spa, the Sea Spa Salon; an art gallery, Eisenhauer Gallery; and a boutique, Mikel Boutique. Their on-site restaurant, Chesca, offers seafood, beef, chicken, Japanese, and Italian cuisine. They offer yoga and fitness retreats, meeting facilities, and wedding packages.
Awards: TripAdvisor — Certificate of Excellence
The Vineyard Square Hotel was originally called The Colonial Inn. In 1835, a Methodist camp meeting inspired the idea of Martha’s Vineyard as a summer retreat.
In 1911, Thomas Henry Chirgwin built The Colonial Inn. It had 16 rooms, electric lights, hot and cold baths, steam heat, and three dining rooms seating 400 and serving three meals a day. The three dining rooms were for either the owner, his family, maids, and chauffeurs; guests’ children and nannies; or adult guests. A year later, 16 rooms were added. In 1921, another building was incorporated into The Colonial Inn. In 1927 a local newspaper mentioned that the hotel included 60 rooms spread among the main building and three other buildings.
The hotel was acquired by new owners in 1964 and a new management team in 1966, who brought back breakfast and lunch service and added a gourmet cuisine to the hotel. The new management team also named rooms after books by Somerset Maughan, who had been a frequent guest at the hotel in the 1940s. The hotel was sold again in 1967 and received a license to sell alcohol at that time. After another sale in 1973, the dining room was replaced by a 500-person nightclub with live music. In 1984, the nightclub was replaced by a 50-person restaurant and retail space. Another sale in 1986 saw renovations, including private bathrooms in every room. A sale of the hotel in 1999 resulted in some of the retail space being converted to a spa, fitness room, and meeting rooms. Renovations in 2006 reduced the 43 rooms to 34, including six one- and two-bedroom luxury suites. In 2009, the hotel changed ownership again and was redecorated in beach modern style in 2011. That is when it became Vineyard Square Hotel and Suites.
Harbor View Hotel
Address: 131 North Water Street, Edgartown, Massachusetts
Phone: (508) 627-7000
Rooms 114, including some cottages
Amenities The location of the Harbor View Hotel allows for beach access. Other amenities include WiFi, a 36-inch flat-screen TV, cable, a desk, kitchens in some rooms, cribs, dog-friendly rooms, bathrobes, a hairdryer, toiletries, an iron and ironing board, room service, a concierge, a front desk safe, multi-lingual staff, newspapers in the lobby, a full-service laundry, a dry cleaning service, bicycles, beach towels, a pool, and poolside bar. The hotel also includes a fitness center, wedding packages, meeting facilities, a fireplace in the lobby, and Bettini, a restaurant and bar that offers seafood, beef and Italian cuisine
Awards: Member Historic Hotels of America
Built in 1891, the Harbor View Hotel grand opening was by invitation only and was attended by 400 hotel guests and Edgarton residents. The hotel was part of a plan by city leaders to attract tourists after the whaling industry declined. It has successfully continued to attract guests.
Restaurants Near the Cape Poge Lighthouse
Address: 71 Main Street, Edgartown, Massachusetts
Phone: (508) 627-9999
Restaurant type: Alchemy is a fine-dining restaurant, a bistro, and a bar featuring American cuisine with a European flair.
Menu Items on the menu feature seafood, beef, pork, and chicken.
Awards: 2019 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
Best Cocktails on the Island — Martha’s Vineyard Magazine
Address: 15 Winter Street, Edgartown, Massachusetts
Phone: (508) 627-8810
Restaurant type Détente is a fine-dining restaurant and a bistro.
Menu Items on the menu feature locally sourced and seasonal contemporary American cuisine with a European flair and include seafood, beef, and pork.
Awards: Travel Advisor Certificate of Excellence 201- to 2019
Top Zagat rated restaurant
Address: 22 North Water Street, Edgartown, Massachusetts
Phone: (508) 627-5187
Restaurant type L’etoile offers fine dining with a bar.
Menu Items on the menu feature locally sourced and seasonal contemporary French and American cuisine including seafood, beef, and pheasant.
Awards: Travel Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2016 to 2019
Find a Table Diner’s Choice Award 2019
Address: 3 Main Street, Edgartown, Massachusetts
Phone: (508) 627-9966
Restaurant type Wharf Pub is a family-friendly American-style pub and restaurant with live music.
Menu The menu features seafood.
Awards: Travel Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2016 to 2019
Daily tours of the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge and the lighthouse are offered starting near the end of May. You actually are allowed to climb up to the lantern room. Tours are offered from 10 am to 11:30 am, 12 noon to 1:30 pm, and 2 pm to 3:30 pm.
Unique features of Cape Pogue:
The light is 65 feet above mean high water and can be seen from a distance of nine miles. The 35-foot high, conical-shaped tower is white with a black lantern. It is covered with shingles. With all the updates it has received, the lighthouse does not have a foghorn.
Places to Eat Nearby
The Seafood Shanty
31 Dock St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
29 Dock St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
Among the Flowers Café
17 Mayhew Ln, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
3 Main St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
11 N Water St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
Kelley House Hotel
23 Kelly St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
The Lightkeepers Inn
25 Simpsons Ln, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
Harbor View Hotel
131 N Water St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
20 Peases Point Way, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
128 Main St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
Things to Do Nearby:
Mytoi Japanese Garden
41 Dike Rd, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
38 N Water St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
Old Whaling Church, Edgartown Liturgical Arts Center
89 Main St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
Vincent House Museum
99 Main St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States
230 N Water St, Edgartown, MA 02539, United States