On April 16th, 1851, a strong nor'easter smashed into Cape Cod, and brought the highest waters ever seen in that area up to that the time, easily besting the high tides of 1723. The system went into the history books as "The Lighthouse Storm.” Heavy gales and high seas pounded the coasts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The storm arrived at the time of a full moon, and the high tide was already well above what would be termed normal for the coast. That evening, the newly-constructed Minot's Ledge Lighthouse was destroyed by this massive storm. The storm weakened the tower's iron support piles, causing them to collapse and topple into the ocean off the coast. The lighthouse keeper, had been away in Boston when the storm struck. Onlookers on April 17 could only see the bent iron pilings where the lighthouse once stood. The two assistant lighthouse keepers, bravely kept the lighthouse lamp burning as late as 10:00 PM on the night of April 16th to warn ships of the nearby rocks just before they were swept away in the storm’s massive waves.
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