There is no state of Maine without lighthouses. Our culture has been built upon and defined by these beacons of light, many of which were built in the 1800s. These lighthouses were absolutely essential for providing safety to Mariners, especially since the Maine coastline can be a very challenging - and dangerous - place. All together, Maine has 68 lighthouses - many of them located here in the Midcoast region. Now, while Lincolnville is not home to these magnificent structures, it's a stone's throw away from some great ones. Depending on where you plan some day trips in Maine, here are just a handful of notable and easily accessible lighthouses that are worth seeing while you're here.
Accessible via the Maine State Ferry Service: Islesboro Ferry
P.O. Box 214
Lincolnville, ME 04849-0214
This lighthouse is likely one of your top destinations if you're taking the ferry to Islesboro – leaving right from the Lincolnville Beach ferry.
Grindle Point Light is located in Gilkey Harbor on the western side of Islesboro Island; the lighthouse station is adjacent to the ferry landing. It’s still an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation.
The original light station was established in 1851, requiring $3,100 to build this one and a half story brick building with a lantern on the roof. In 1874, the lighthouse that stands today was built. The structure is a 39-foot brick tower that's attached by a covered walkway to the story keeper’s dwelling. It added a boathouse in 1886 and engine oil house (still remaining today) in 1906.
Grindle Point Light was deactivated in 1934, but relit in 1987 when the Islesboro citizens convinced the Coast Guard to do so.
Today, guests are welcome to explore the Sailors’ Memorial Museum in the summer, once the keeper’s dwelling. Here they can enjoy an exciting collection of maritime and lighthouse related items, such as ship models and captain pictures.
The museum is open to the public from July 1st through Labor Day (12:00 - 4:30 on Tuesday and 9:30 - 4:30 on Wednesday – Sunday – and closed for lunch), with available appointments. There is an on-site gift shop offering souvenirs, and guests are encouraged to talk to the knowledgeable lighthouse keepers.
After the lighthouse visit, guests should take full advantage of their Islesboro visit and explore all the outdoor activities that this island has to offer – detailed more here! [Link to Islesboro article].
Please visit the Maine State Ferry Service for Islesboro Ferry schedule information.
Rockland Harbor, ME
An old story sets the stage for this historical lighthouse. In December 1850, there was a horrible storm in the area. It's what anchored a small schooner at Jameson’s Point - with three passengers aboard: Richard B. Ingraham; seaman Roger Elliott; and Lydia Dyer, Ingraham’s fiancée. After the strong winds snapped the schooner’s cables, Elliott ran for help and happened to come across the lighthouse keeper. After retrieving the couple, everyone discovered that these two people were encased in ice. After hours of hard work (warm water and massaging extremities), the couple woke up and asked where they were. Locals never get tired of sharing this “frozen couple of Owl’s Head” story.
Today, Owls Head Light is located in Western Penobscot Bay, at the southern side of the entrance to Rockland Harbor. Even though the lighthouse is short (standing at 30 feet), the light shines 100 feet above sea level with its placement on a strategic hill.
This light was built in 1825 at the order of President John Quincy Adams. The keeper’s dwelling was added in 1856, and a generator house and oil building were added in 1895. It was automated in 1989. Today, Owls Head Light is an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation. While the keeper’s dwelling is closed to the public (it's the residence for Coast Guard personnel), the lighthouse is now part of Owls Head Light State Park and the grounds are open to the public.
Oh, and one more story! Back in the 1930s, Spot (an English Springer Spaniel) would ring the fog bell every time a boat approached - shaking the bell using his teeth on the rope. It was this warning that saved the Matinicus mailboat in a bad storm; the sailor steered clear of the rocks as soon as he heard Spot’s bark. Today, Spot rests in peace near the former location of the fog bell.
The Mariners story remains strong here, too. In 1961, keeper Ernest DeRaps said he saw spray flying against the second story windows in bad storms. In one particular snowstorm, he tied his six-year-old son to his own body (using a rope) so they wouldn't be blown away as they made the trek to their truck - through two feet of snow.
Brown's Head Light, located off the coast of Rockland, marks the popular seaway between Vinalhaven and North Haven. Vinalhaven used to be home to a huge granite industry and is why President Andrew Jackson gave the okay for Brown's Head Light to be built in 1832 with $4,000 in development funds.
A new wooden frame house (1.5 stories) was built in 1857, connecting a covered passageway to the new 20-foot tall brick cylindrical tower. A 1,000-pound fog bell was added. And oil house was added in 1903 and the lighthouse became automated in 1987. With a range of 13 miles, the light is 39 feet above sea level.
The grounds are open to the public, but the tower and dwelling are closed. The original bell is on display at the Vinalhaven Historical Museum.
Rockland Harbor, ME
You can't miss this lighthouse; the Rockland Breakwater Light is located at the end of a 4,300-foot granite pier.
The W.H. Glover Company of Rockland built it in 1902. The square, red brick tower is attached to a wood-frame keeper's dwelling and a brick fog signal building. It was automated in 1965. The lighthouse was almost torn down in 1973, but it was saved. The City of Rockland adopted the station under the Maine Lights Program in 1998. It is currently an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation.
Visitors get the ultimate experience here and can tour the lighthouse on weekends during the summer months. People also love to sit on or stroll the breakwater to soak in the Maine coastal scene.
Head to the Maine Lighthouse Museum if you crave more lighthouse information and artifacts. Located at One Park Drive in Rockland, this is the largest collection of rare fresnel lenses, buoys, working lights, sound signals, bells, and ship models in the country. It also spotlights the amazing life-saving stories of our mariners – including a full large collection of search and rescue gear.Maine Lighthouse Museum Website