Introduction

Tarpaulin Cove Light
Tom Sparks
A privately maintained light was first built at Tarpaulin Cove in 1759; the Coast Guard's predecessor took over in 1817. Today the structure is leased to the Cuttyhunk Historical Society and closed to the public. {nps/mhm}

In a sense, Tarpaulin Cove is like a sleepy main street shopping district after the highway came through and by-passed the town. The "highway" here is the Cape Cod Canal, whose opening in 1914 effectively shifted coastwise traffic from the old route through Vineyard Sound and around the Cape to the new route through Buzzards Bay.

Before the Canal, traffic through Vineyard Sound was dense enough that Naushon Island warranted a lighthouse, and that a post office was established, with congressional approval (article), in the late 1800s. Sailors could drop and retrieve mail with just about "drive-thru" convenience.{mvg}

Nowadays the cove, like the rest of the island, is largely uninhabited, the lighthouse is automated and the (relatively) few boats transiting the Sound rarely need a sheltered anchorage to wait for wind or tide. Tarpaulin Cove is left mostly to daytime visitors.

more on Tarpaulin Cove. . .