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Let’s Look at Lighthouses: Tenants Harbor Light

September 1st, 2010 by Kelleigh Dulany

Tenants Harbor Light, photo courtesy US Coast Guard
Tenants Harbor Light c. 1870’s

In addition to the many Maine Lighthouses that can be visited from land, there are several that require a visit by boat. Some of these are open to the public, if you can get there, while others are not open, some are even privately owned. Tenants Harbor Light, also known as Tenants Island Light, is privately owned.

In 1857 (this date is given by the U.S. Coast Guard, though some authors state the construction was 1854) a 27 foot tower was built on Southern Island, putting the light 66 feet above the high water mark. A work shed attached the tower to the keeper’s dwelling. The original tower was white and the dwelling brown.

In 1934 the lighthouse was one of a number of lighthouses auctioned off by the government, and was bought by a resident of nearby Rockland, Maine. After passing through several owners, the lighthouse was bought in 1978 by noted artist Andrew Wyeth and his wife. It has remained in the Wyeth family since then, being presently owned by Wyeth’s son, Jamie, also an artist in his own right, and his wife.

Modern view of Tenants Harbor Light

Andrew Wyeth build his studio inside the old bell tower, reportedly modeled on Lord Nelson’s quarters on his ship, Victory, reflecting Wyeth’s interest in history. There is also a period cannon visible on the grounds.

The lighthouse is visible only from the water or air. There are lighthouse tours available in nearby Port Clyde, that pass close to the lighthouse, allowing very nice photo opportunities for visitors. Reportedly Jamie Wyeth will often appear to wave at the passing boats.

For more information:

US Coast Guard, Maine Lighthouses
Tenants Harbor Light History

Let’s Look at Lighthouses: Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

August 18th, 2010 by Kelleigh Dulany

Today’s look at Maine lighthouses ventures a bit farther afield than some of our others, but to a place many of our guests go, after a few days at Brewster House Bed & Breakfast in Freeport. It is Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, on Mount Desert Island (not far from Bar Harbor, Maine), after which our Bass Harbor suite is named.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Perched high on the rocks, overlooking Bass Harbor, stands the picturesque lighthouse. The harbor is very accessible, but the light was needed to navigate the entrance. In 1857 the land was acquired and in 1858 a 32 foot tower constructed, and its fixed red light was lit.

Driving into the parking lot, visitors are often puzzled about where the lighthouse is located, as, looking in the sky, there is no tower visible. Because of the terrain, the parking lot sits above the height of the lighthouse, and only the top part of the tower is visible to arriving guests.

Unlike many modern lighthouses, the keeper’s house at Bass Harbor remains a residence. Visitors can walk down the paved pathway from the parking lot, but must stop near the keepers house, to avoid disturbing the occupants. Often this can frustrate photographers, as they can not stand far enough back from the tower to get it all in the picture, but can not go farther to change the perspective.

Somewhat less noticeable, is the dirt path through the wooded area at the opposite end of the parking lot (near the public restrooms). It leads a short distance through the woods, to a wooden staircase leading down the cliff, to the rocks below. From this angle some of the most dramatic photographs of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse may be obtained.

For additional information, please see:

Let’s Look at Lighthouses: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

August 10th, 2010 by Kelleigh Dulany

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, late 1800's
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, late 1800’s

As our “Let’s Look at Lighthouses” series continues, we travel up US-1 from Freeport about 40 minutes or so to the pretty village of Damariscotta, on the Damariscotta River, where we travel through town, then out the peninsula to Pemaquid Point and Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.

Marking the entrance to Muscongus Bay just to the east, and John’s Bay to the west, Pemaquid Point lighthouse was ordered built by President John Quincy Adams in 1827. The original tower was of rubblestone, and did not last long – some speculate that the lime mortar may have been mixed with salt water, weakening the bond. The replacement tower was built in 1835, at a height of 35 feet to the lantern deck, and high above the beautiful rocks that lead to the water some 79 feet below.

Because the lighthouse was perched so high above the water, and the rocky bluff, it was very difficult to transport oil and supplies to the station. Lighthouse tenders had to anchor near the rocks, which was quite hazardous.

Pemaquid Point lighthouse, 2006

Pemaquid Point saw its share of wrecks, as the combination of treacherous rocks and Atlantic storms brought ships against the rocks in heavy fog. In 1903 two schooners suffered tragedy in the same storm. Later, in 1917, another struck the rocks, and while the crew escaped safely, the ship and its cargo was lost.

The town of Bristol purchased the keeper’s house in 1940, and maintains the grounds and its small park area, plus operating a small fishermen’s museum.

In 2007 the lighthouse tower was refurbished and strengthened, as well as being repainted.

Pemaquid Point lighthouse remains one of the most photographed, painted and admired lighthouses along the Maine coast, and is a favorite of many – appearing on the Maine U.S. quarter dollar in 2003.

Additional information:

U.S. Coast Guard, Lighthouses in Maine

New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide

Jeremy D’Entremont, The Lighthouses of Maine (2009)

Let’s Look at Lighthouses: Cape Elizabeth Light

July 20th, 2010 by Kelleigh Dulany

Not far from their more photographed cousin at Portland Head stand the the two towers known as Cape Elizabeth Lights, or Two Lights. They were first erected in 1828 as rubblestone towers, then replaced in 1873 by cast-iron towers.

Edward Hopper painting of the lighthouse at Two Lights

The towers have different light patterns, one fixed and one flashing, so they can easily be recognized from the sea, and the two lights form a range, allowing a vessel to know its position precisely when the lights are aligned. The west tower was discontinued in 1924, while the east tower still functions as an aid to navigation, marking the entrance to Casco Bay.

The U.S. Coast Guard website contains historical information on lighthouses and relates the following events which took place at Cape Elizabeth in 1885:

Cape Elizabeth Light (Two Lights)

One of the most thrilling episodes in the history of the lighthouse occurred on January 28, 1885, when Keeper Marcus A. Hanna saved two crew members of the schooner Australia which had grounded on the ledge near the fog signal station. The two men had taken to the rigging and were coated with ice, unable to move. The captain was drowned as a huge comber washed the deck. Keeper Hanna, securing a heavy iron weight to the end of a stout line, attempted time and again to reach the men with it. Suddenly a towering wave struck the schooner and smashed her against the rocks, putting her on her beam ends.

Keeper Hanna again threw his line and watched it land on the schooner. One of the seamen managed to reach it and bent it around his waist. Then he jumped into the sea and the keeper, with great effort, pulled him up over the rocky ledge. The keeper now heaved the line a second time and finally it reached the second seaman who wound it around his icy body. Then he too jumped into the ocean. Just as the keeper’s strength was exhausted in trying to haul ashore the second man, help came in the shape of the keeper’s assistant and two neighbors, who helped haul the man to safety.

The present light is 67 feet above ground, and 129 feet above the water. Its beam is visible for 17 miles.

The keeper’s  house at Two Lights is privately owned. The owners have enlarged the house and added other features, so it no longer appears as it did when being used to house the lighthouse keeper and his family.

Near the east tower is a well-known lobster shack, which makes the Cape Elizabeth lights a delightful place to visit.

Let’s Look at Lighthouses: Marshall Point Lighthouse

July 14th, 2010 by Kelleigh Dulany

The charming village of Port Clyde is a busy lobstering community, near the tip of the St. George peninsula, and has access to both Muscongus Bay and Penobscot Bay.

Marshall Point Lighthouse with new keepers quarters, courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

The lighthouse was originally constructed in 1832, to guide mariners into and out of Port Clyde harbor. The present 31 foot tower was built in 1857. The “new” keepers quarters were built in 1895, after fire destroyed the original keepers’ house.

Despite being located at the entrance to a harbor, rather than in a major shipping channel, Marshall Point lighthouse has seen its share of maritime disasters. In 1886 a steamer was wrecked on a nearby ledge, but all passengers and crew safely escaped. In the 1920’s another steamer struck the ledge, and the crew attempted to escape in a small boat. The boat capsized, and all were lost. Ironically, they would have been saved if they had remained aboard the steamer, as it did not sink.

Marshall Point lighthouse was electrified in 1935, and automated in 1971. The ground floor of the keepers house now contains the Marshall Point lighthouse museum.

Although the light was automated, and there was no need for a traditional lighthouse keeper, Thomas and Lee Ann Szelog applied to live as tenants on the second floor of the keepers house, and did reside there for 14 years, from 1989 to 2002. They published a photographic journal of their time at Marshall Point as Our Point of View.

Many may recognize Marshall Point lighthouse from the film, Forrest Gump, as it was the lighthouse where actor Tom Hanks ended his cross-country run. A photo of Hanks hangs in the lighthouse museum.

Let’s Look at Lighthouses! West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

June 23rd, 2010 by Kelleigh Dulany

The distinctive red and white stripes of West Quoddy Head Light are readily visible overlooking the Grand Manan Channel and the Bay of Fundy at America’s easternmost point.

West Quoddy Head Light Station, Maine Just off the rocky beach below the lighthouse, Sail Rock protrudes ominously from the surface of the water, ready to tear apart any vessel daring to approach too closely. In 1806 a light station was authorized by Congress, to assist mariners traveling in these treacherous waters, just south of Canada’s Campobello Island, and west of Grand Manan Island. The light station was established in 1808, and a fog signal added in 1820.

Owing, at least in part, to the harsh winter climate, West Quoddy Light Station was not well-constructed, and not well-maintained, so the tower was rebuilt in 1830, and the present 49 foot tower was constructed in 1857, sitting 83 feet above sea level, with its 35,000 candlepower beacon visible about 18 miles offshore. The red and white stripes appear to have been added shortly after the present tower was erected.

West Quoddy Head Light, courtesy US Coast GuardIn the latter part of the 1800’s West Quoddy was considered a good assignment for a lighthouse keeper, in part as a result of its proximity to the town of Lubec, Maine. In fact, when one of the keepers of the light failed to keep up the maintenance of the site, he was transferred to a less desirable location as a punishment. He resigned, rather than return to the harsh conditions at the station to which he was to have been assigned.

West Quoddy Head and Quoddy Narrows, MaineThe lighthouse grounds are now part of Quoddy Head State Park, and there are trails along the coastline, and through the woods, with picnic tables, and steps down to the rocky shore. Whales and bald eagles can often be spotted near the lighthouse. It is a site that is well worth a visit. While there, a short drive takes you to the town of Lubec, where you can see Maine’s Lubec Channel lighthouse, cross the bridge to Canada’s Campobello Island, vor iew Mulholland Lighthouse across the channel.

West Quoddy Head Light Station is about 4 hours from Brewster House, but it is well worth the drive. The drive itself is a beautiful one. We left after breakfast, had lunch at Quoddy State Park, and still had time to explore Lubec, then make several stops on the way back home, for a full day of exploring.

For more information, see

Let’s Look at Lighthouses! Cape Neddick Light (the Nubble)

June 15th, 2010 by Kelleigh Dulany

Cape Neddick Light, York, MaineQuite a few of Maine’s sixty-plus lighthouses are offshore on islands, making them accessible only by boat or visible only from the air. Cape Neddick Light is one of a few that are on islands, but are easily viewed from shore.

Cape Neddick Light is on a small island known as “The Nubble”, just offshore from Cape Neddick Point (in the village of York Beach, strangely enough, not in the village of Cape Neddick). The lighthouse was first established, and the lantern lit, in 1879. There had been talk of putting a lighthouse on the Nubble since 1807, but even with later wrecks, the decision was that there were enough lighthouses in the area to protect shipping. One of the wrecks, the Isadore, wrecked nearby in 1842, is still said to appear as a ghost ship with a phantom crew.

Perched high on the rocky island, the 41 foot tower puts the light 88 feet above sea level, with its red beacon above the white tower.

Cape Neddick Lighthouse (the Nubble) from the airAt low tide it was sometimes possible to walk between the mainland and the island, but the usual way of crossing was by boat, often tethered to a line across the channel. Supplies (and sometimes people) were transferred by a large bucket suspended from the cable. The lighthouse was a tourist attraction from the beginning, with some keepers earning extra money by ferrying tourists to the island.

The keeper’s house and tower are decorated with white lights for the Christmas season. However, since there are many more visitors in the summer months, the town of York, who maintains the light station, also decorates it again in July.

The Nubble is a bit less than an hour drive from Brewster House Bed & Breakfast, and our guests often enjoy a day trip to Cape Neddick, with side trips to Kennebunkport, Wells, and sometimes Kittery.

For more information, see

Let’s Look At Lighthouses! Portland Head Lighthouse

June 2nd, 2010 by Kelleigh Dulany

Portland Head Lighthouse is located in Fort Williams Park, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, less than half an hour drive from Brewster House Bed & Breakfast. It is easy to visit, in a local park, with free access and plenty of parking. The drive through Cape Elizabeth is enchanting, with a mix of old and newer homes, and glimpses of Casco Bay through the trees.

Portland Head Lighthouse (Maine)The setting for Maine’s Portland Head Lighthouse is dramatic, with its rocky coast and waves which sometimes lash the shore. The small coves to either side of the lighthouse make it a photographer’s dream come true – a site that is the epitome of Maine.

The location was the site of different forts, throughout US history and its wars, and now is a community park, with beach, trails, remains of the military installations and a stone house. The lighthouse itself is one of only four colonial era lighthouses whose tower has never been rebuilt. Commissioned in 1787 by George Washington, the lighthouse was first lit in January, 1791. The tower height has been changed more than once, but now stands 80 feet high, and 101 feet above water.

Portland Head Lighthouse, prior to 1891American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was born in Portland, was a frequent visitor, and Portland Head lighthouse is thought to be the inspiration for his 1849 poem, “The Lighthouse.”

On Christmas Eve in 1886 the British bark Annie C. MacGuire was shipwrecked in a terrible storm – so bad, lighthouse keeper Joseph Strout is reported to have said, that even Santa Claus was afraid to be out. The keeper’s family was able to help with a rescue and all aboard made it safely ashore.

Much of the history of Portland Head Lighthouse is on display in the small museum in the keeper’s house, which may be accessed for a nominal charge. The rest of the park is free, and is a popular location for picnics, kite-flying, wading, and hiking, all while watching the boats – sail and power – just offshore.

Lighthouses in Maine: Tour (Part 1)

June 15th, 2011 by Kelleigh Dulany

At our Freeport Maine Bed & Breakfast we’ve recently seen quite a few bookings for our specials and packages, especially our Maine Lighthouse Tour package. What is the attraction? Let’s see if we can find out.

First of all, there are over 60 lighthouses in Maine (check out our Maine Lighthouse Map for the locations), so seeing all of them in a day is somewhat challenging – especially when you consider that some are well off-shore! So we’ve made some hard choices, and come up with a tour that will take all day if you do it all, but will take you to seven lighthouses (and you’ll pass tantalizingly close to a few more), and some of the most beautiful and dramatic views along the Maine coast.

Portland Head Light

We begin by getting on Interstate 295 in Freeport, and heading south toward Portland. We’ll exit at Forest Avenue, wind through town a bit, cross the Casco Bay Bridge, and navigate through the beautiful and stately old homes of Cape Elizabeth, until we reach Fort Williams Park. Entering the park (Free Admission!!), we pass old barracks, a playground, the parade ground, and park near the gun battery. We can explore the grounds, including the old stone house, and another fort, or sit on a hill overlooking the lighthouse, watching kites and sailboats. Portland Head was originally commissioned in 1785 and first lighted in 1790. There is a nice museum in the keeper’s house.

Cape Elizabeth Light (Two Lights)



Turning left as we leave the park, we’ll make our way through Cape Elizabeth to the road which leads to Two Lights State Park, but rather than going into the park, we’ll pass it by and go to the end of the road, where we can see the twin lighthouses known as “Two Lights,” built in 1828. If there’s room, we’ll park in the dirt lot at the end of the road, then walk out the rocks to get a good look back at the towers, and, if the weather is clear, back down the coast to Portland Head Light. Climbing a small bluff, where Two Lights Lobster Shack is located, there is a great view of the lighthouses, and also out across the bay.

Cape Neddick Light (The Nubble)

We have a choice of returning to US-1 to continue south, or getting on Interstate 295/95, but in either case we’ll want to get back to US-1 at Biddeford, then take the drive from Kennebunk to Kennebunkport on Route 35. This pretty drive goes past some beautiful old homes with interesting histories. If you like, you can also take a small detour to Cape Porpoise, hidden away just above Kennebunkport, and home of Goat Island Light, just offshore.

Continuing back to US-1 from Kennebunkport, you pass through several interesting towns – Wells, Ogunquit, York and York Beach, before winding toward the sea and Cape Neddick Lighthouse, built in 1879 (which, interestingly enough, is located in York Beach, not the town of Cape Neddick). The lighthouse is located just offshore on a rocky island, hence the nickname “The Nubble.” The keeper used to cross via boat (and it could be waded at low tide, but that was treacherous, until a gondola and cable system was installed.

Cape Neddick Lighthouse is lighted in white lights at Christmas, but since many who visit there choose to come in warmer weather and would otherwise never see its decoration, it is lighted again for the month of July each year.

In our next installment, we’ll head north of Brewster House to see more lighthouses!

Visiting Maine – Lobster, Lobstah, Ahhh, Heaven – Part 4

May 7th, 2009 by Kelleigh Dulany

Continuing our series on where to find the information you need for your visit to Maine, let’s talk lobster – or let’s talk lobstah. However you pronounce it, it is uniquiely associated with Maine and uncommonly tasty.

Quite some time ago we talked about where to go for Maine lobster, providing a discussion of seasons, hard and soft shells, etc. – that information is a good starting point.

Where to Get It

As the Maine state tourism office says, “Maine lobster (is any other kind half as good?) is the starring item on menus at sophisticated restaurants throughout the state, as well as at rough-hewn shanties with picnic tables set along the coast.”

Most places offer lobster, whether restaurants, diners, hole-in-the-wall cafes, fast food places, lobster roll places, or lobster shacks. Usually it is a lobster dinner, with ears of sweet corn and a side of coleslaw.

Restaurants

Practically any restaurant in the state will offer lobster. Some are the traditional lobster dinner, others are more exotic creations from the chef. All use the delicious local red crustacean.

Lobster Shacks

Many folks like the idea of lobster fresh off the boats. You can find that at most of Maine’s lobster shacks along the coast. In some cases the prices are better at the lobster shacks, too. Travel + Leisure Magazine has an article (updated in June, 2009) on “The 10 Best Lobster Shacks in Maine” which gives some good recommendations. It includes Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, which we’ll class under Lobster Roll, below, but most of the others are genuine lobster shacks.

Some of our favorites are Harasseeket Lunch and Lobster, in South Freeport, and Five Islands Lobster Company in Five Islands. Five Islands offers a spectacular view of the five islands directly off shore, and you can watch the lobster boats come and go from the dock.

Not mentioned in the article, but certainly among our favorites, are the Lobster Shack at Two Lights, in Cape Elizabeth, where you climb up to a lobster shack perched atop a great bluff, and overlook Casco Bay and the Cape Elizabeth (Two Lights) lighthouses. The view alone is worth a visit. Another favorite is the Lobster Dock in Boothbay Harbor, where you can eat inside or out, overlooking the boat traffic in the harbor, and just a short walk across the footbridge to the village.

Lobster Rolls

An entirely different category (at least that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it) is the lobster roll. Found at many different kinds of eatery (including McDonalds in Freeport!), the lobster roll is an art form of its own.

Generally the roll is a small hot dog bun, laid open, with chunks of lobster piled on it. Some mix the lobster with a sauce, others serve the sauce on the side. Most agree that the less sauce, the better.

Consistently popular enough to cause traffic jams all summer long is Red’s Eats, right on US-1 in Wiscasset. About a pound of lobster chunks on a bun, with sauce on the side, the line winds down the street even on a cold, rainy, spring day. Expect to wait, but don’t be tempted to go elsewhere. You’ve been warned!

A similar experience can be had at the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, where the lobster rolls are considered among the best in the state.

Lobster Stew

Once again, many types of eatery provide wonderful lobster stews. Creamy and filled with lobster chunks, the best ones are a meal in a bowl. Our favorite in this department is the Sea Basket, in Wiscasset. You can even buy the stock (frozen) to take home. Just add cream and heat!

Check the Maine Lobster Promotion Council for more information about Maine Lobster!

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