Offering unparalleled panoramic views of Nantucket harbor and the landmark historic district.  Enjoy the beutiful views of today, while looking back on the history of Nantucket harbor.

Nantucket Harbor and the Nantucket Bar 

The curving shoal that stretches across the mouth of Nantucket Harbor has been known for centuries as the Nantucket Bar.  The sandbanks that make up this natural barrier to Nantucket’s Great Harbor allow a maximum depth of only nine feet at high tide.  Nantucket Bar proved a constant challenge to the mariners navigating its shallow waters.

The “Camels” shown here were introduced by Peter Ewer in 1842 , as a floating dry dock that buoyed heavily laden whaleships across the bar, pulled by the steamboats of the fleet.

In the 1880s, the federal government constructed the present jetties of riprap granite to keep a clear channel for all maritime traffic.

Nantucket Lighthouses

Nantucket’s lighthouses provided mariners with guiding beacons to help navigate the island’s often treacherous surrounding waters, in which hundreds of vessels had foundered during the course of maritime history.  The shallow waters around Nantucket are home to such deadly shoals as the Rose and Crown, Great Rip, the Old Man, and Bass Rip.

Brant Point Light was built in 1746 and is the second oldest lighthouse in the country.  Its tenth rebuilding occurred in 1901. Great Point Lighthouse was first built of wood in 1785.  After a fire, it was rebuilt of stone in 1818, and most recently in 1986 after damage by a storm. Sankaty Head Lighthouse was built in 1849 on the Siasconset bluff.  Its brilliant light was referred to by fishermen as “the blazing star”.

Nantucket Wharves

Nantucket’s wharves were the heart of the island’s livelihood during the whaling period and beyond. The evolution of the wharves tells the story of Nantucket’s connection to the local world of the mainland, and to the distant lands that Nantucketers were discovering at the far reaches of the globe.

Steamboat Wharf, formerly New North Wharf, was visited by the steamer daily.  From 1881 to 1918, the Nantucket Railroad ran from the wharf to stations out of town.

Pictured here is the view overlooking Old North Wharf, Steamboat Wharf and Brant Point in 1915. Note the end of the railroad tracks on Steamboat Wharf, left center.


The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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