Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Maine has 68 lighthouses, 14 of which are in Knox County. Lighthouses are art, history, and culture, each unique in its design, and each with its own tales of heroic rescues, romantic legends, shipwrecks, and ghosts. Built in the 1800s by some of America’s foremost architects and engineers, lighthouses posed major construction challenges due to the rocky, wave-swept ledges and shifting sands on which they stand. In recent times, automation has left many empty light keeper’s houses prey to neglect. We are fortunate that several of our lighthouses here in the Midcoast have been preserved as museums.
Rockland Breakwater Light – Breakwater built in 1880s; lighthouse commissioned 1902
Up for a windy walk? That’s how you reach this 18-foot square tower atop a fog signal house at the end of a seven-eighths-mile-long granite pier. Rockland Break- water is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of Rockland Harbor Lights (www.rocklandharborlights.org) is restoring the lighthouse and hosts open houses on weekends from late May to mid-October. The lighthouse is also open for special events, including the Maine Windjammer Parade in mid-July and the Maine Lobster Festival July 30 to August 2. Access is from Samoset Road, off Waldo Avenue in Rockland. http://www.rocklandharborlights.org
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Owls Head Light – Original 1825; current tower 1852
This 20-foot white brick conical tower stands proudly on the peak of the headland and 100 feet above sea level. You’ll get panoramic views of Rockland Harbor and frequent fishing boat and ferry traffic. Take Route 73 south from Rockland, then North Shore Drive to Owls Head village and follow the signs to the Owls Head Light State Park. http://www.facebook.com/owlsheadlighthouse or http://www.rocklandharborlights.org
Marshall Point Light – Original 1832; current tower 1858
If you’ve seen the movie Forrest Gump, you caught a glimpse of this 25-foot white-granite tower with attached footbridge. The former keeper’s residence is now a museum and shop, and it’s open Memorial Day through Columbus Day. Access is from Marshall Point Road, off Route 131 in Port Clyde. http://www.marshallpoint.org
Curtis Island Light – Original 1836;current tower 1896
This active light is located at the southeastern end of the island of the same name, overlooking Camden Harbor. The original 20-foot rubble-stone tower was badly cracked in a February 1842 storm, but survived nearly 60 years longer before being replaced by the current brick structure. This light can be viewed from a public-access path in Camden. Follow Bay View Street from the center of town for about one-half mile until Beacon Avenue intersects from the right. Park on the right shoulder, cross the street, and walk about 50 feet farther along Bay View Street to the path on the left. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=532
Indian Island Light – Original 1850; current tower 1875
Unmanned and taken out of service in 1934, pri- vately owned Indian Island Light stands at the southern end of Indian Island, on the east side of the entrance to Rockport Harbor. The white brick tower, 37 feet high from ground level to the lantern, can be viewed from Rockport Marine Park. From Route 1 north, turn right onto Main Street. Turn right onto the bridge. Just past the bridge, look for a small turnout on the left and drive down to the park. http://www.camdenmainevacation.com/indian-island-light.php
Grindle Point Light – Original 1851; current tower 1874
Located at the western entrance to Gilkey Harbor, the major haven along the western shore of Islesboro Island, this 33-foot-square white tower was reactivated in 1987 with an automated beacon. During the summer months, the Town of Islesboro operates the keeper’s quarters as the Sailor’s Museum, which houses displays of the island’s maritime and human history. To reach this light, take a 20-minute ferry ride from Lincolnville Beach. The light is adjacent to the Islesboro ferry landing. http://www.camdenmainevacation.com/grindle-point-light.php
Maine Lighthouse Museum
If you are interested in lighthouses and their histories, a visit to the Maine Lighthouse Museum, at One Park Drive, Rockland, is a must. The Maine Lighthouse Museum features the largest and most significant collection of lighthouse lenses and artifacts in the United States —a national treasure in the heart of downtown Rockland. See rare and priceless Fresnel lenses and learn about lighthouses, lightkeepers, the U.S. Coast Guard and more. www.MaineLighthouseMuseum.org
Lighthouse Sightseeing Cruises
Several sail- and powerboats offer one- to three-hour sightseeing trips that include lighthouse views from the water, as the lights were meant to be seen. For details, check our boating member pages and/or our calendar of events.
Open Lighthouse Day
Each year in mid-September, the general public gets the rare opportunity to climb and learn about more than two dozen historic Maine lights. Open Lighthouse Day, sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, the Maine Office of Tourism, and the American Lighthouse Foundation, attracts 15,000 to 18,000 visitors each year. For details: American Lighthouse Foundation, 207-594-4174; www.lighthousefoundation.org.