Last summer we climbed to the top of the lighthouse after eating our fill of blue corn waffles at The Cliffs. Each time I go up the narrow, winding staircases, I travel backwards in time. The pitted, worn brick walls on the exterior marked by over a century of salty breezes and winter storms. The creaky iron stairwell with the rough handrail that tens of thousands of fingers have grasped to steady themselves during the dizzying ascent. And then at the top, the whole of Up Island spreads out before you.
The lighthouse is somewhat extraneous today in the era of GPS. But standing in the glass encased room warmed by the rotating beacon and the sun, you can close your eyes and see the ships passing by the point and heading round to Menemsha Harbor or Vineyard Haven beyond. Each summer we try to make a point of going up to the top. I like it, in part, because so little changes in the lighthouse and on that part of the island. Or at least, the change is so gradual and comfortable that we don’t notice it.
At night, driving down State Round on the way to the Outermost or other places (on that rare evening outing), the beacon floats in the air atop the brick tower. It is not as permanent or as unchanging as the stars, but I can’t imagine Martha’s Vineyard without that simple, battered brick tower.Alex Salkever
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The Aquinnah lighthouse is one of the first places I go when I return to Martha’s Vineyard every summer and one of the places I take visitors as I show off our beautiful, magical island. The view of the Moshup Trail beach from the lighthouse cannot be beat. And of course as one walks down the beach, looking up at the lighthouse above the cliffs is awe inspiring. The lighthouse is one of the very special places I return to year after year. Unfortunately, mother nature is eroding the cliffs and while saving the cliffs is not realistic, it is possible to save the lighthouse, the symbol of Aquinnah and Martha’s Vineyard. My hope is that it can be saved.
I love the gay head lighthouse because I spend my summers in South Dartmouth, and I love to see the lighthouse’s rays at night. Also I have sailed in Vineyard Sound for many years and the lighthouse provides a sense of security as well as being an important navigational aid. I hope the lighthouse gets saved.
When we visited Martha’s Vineyard a number of years ago with our son and daughter and their children, the grandchildren were all quite tiny — and there were only four at the time! — some of the highlights of our stay were our visits to the magnificent Gay Head lighthouse.
It looked huge to the grownups, so one can imagine how it looked to the children. And perched as it is on the edge by the sea, it looked even more of a wonder! It was and is tangible proof of the history of the island — and, thus, the history of the area. Oh, the stories it could tell!!
It is this sort of monument that must be retained, not only for our children’s children, but for all who come after. For it is a prime example of not only the architecture of the period, but the function it served. Preserving light houses is given high priority in many places: Prince Edward Island in Canada, Sanibel Island in Florida and Split Rock Light House in Minnesota. Please make it a high priority in Massachusetts. Our great grandchildren will need to see Gay Head to make the history of Martha’s Vineyard come alive!
P. S. The tee shirt I bought when we were there pictures the light house — I have worn its so often through the years, it now has holes in the sleeves!
Jane and Tom Nelson, Wayzata, Minnesota and Sanibel Island, Florida