Truly a breathtaking sight, this is the Cape's oldest lighthouse. The first light on this site, powered by 24 whale-oil lamps, began warning ships of Truro's treacherous sandbars in 1797—the dreaded Peaked Hills Bars, to the north, had claimed hundreds of ships. The current light, a 66-foot tower built in 1857, is powered by two 1,000-watt bulbs reflected by a huge Fresnel lens; its beacon is visible for more than 20 miles.
One of four active lighthouses on the
Outer Cape, Highland Light has the distinction of being listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Henry David Thoreau used it as a stopover in his travels across the Cape's backside (as the Atlantic side is called). Twenty-five-minute tours of the lighthouse are given daily in summer. Especially grand are the special full-moon tours.