Bishop and Clerks Lighthouse
About 2 miles south of Great Island in Yarmouth (south of Point Gammon), there is a partially submerged ledge, about a mile in length itself, that is very dangerous to ships in the area. During the 1700's, there was actually a 5 acre island there, and farmers would ferry cattle to the island for grazing. By the 1800's, a large rock on the northern area of the ledge (called the Bishop) and many smaller rocks toward the south (the Clerks) still formed an area that was a hazard to mariners in the area. As a result, in 1858, a 65 foot granite lighthouse was built to guide ships around the area. All the materials to construct the lighthouse were ferried with great difficulty directly from the mainland. On the west side of the granite lighthouse tower itself, a wooden tower was also installed to house a bell that was rung in poor visibility conditions. There were no grounds or other buildings; the two lightkeeper's lived in the tower itself
where there was a kitchen and two bedrooms.
This was an important navigation light in Nantucket Sound at the time, close to shipping lanes from Hyannis to Nantucket. In the late 1880's, more than 150 tons of stone were added around the base of the tower to further protect it from the actions of the waves. In 1923, the light was automated, but by 1928, the light was entirely shut down. The tower then continued to serve in the day as a warning of the rocky ledge. The lighthouse was damaged significantly by a storm in 1935, and gradually continued to deteriorate and be vandalized. Eventually, it began to lean in a hazardous way, so in 1952, it was entirely taken down with dynamite.
Several buoys now mark the ledge area, and a 30 foot tall red and white solar-powered fiberglass tower built in 1998 on the original granite foundation currently provides a navigation light at Bishop and Clerks.
The Bishop and Clerks light as shown at the above right, can only be seen by boat south of Great Island.
Text Content Copyright 2018 by William E. Peace. All Rights Fully Reserved.
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