Boon Island Lighthouse
Boon Island Light, Maine's tallest lighthouse, is six miles offshore and visible in clear weather from Harbor Beach in York Harbor, Maine. As one of the most isolated stations off the Maine coast, it is also one of the most dangerous.
Erected in 1811, authorized by President James Madison, the lighthouse is built on a barren rock island and a very flat piece of land. Well surrounded by ledges, the tower appears at times to spring up from the sea from a submerged ledge, especially when low clouds are flying. Continually submerged by storms, the light has been rebuilt several times.
A new lighthouse tower was erected near the old tower in 1855, consisting of a gray granite conical tower, 133 feet above the water. The lighthouse operates today as a continual beacon to sailors and can be seen up to 21 miles at sea.
In May of 2000, the lighthouse was leased by the Coast Guard to the American Lighthouse Foundation, which is now responsible for maintaining the tower. It is not open to the public but can be seen from Sohier Park, off Nubble Road, in York Beach.
As told in the novel Boon Island by Kenneth Roberts, that in December 1710, the Galley Nottingham wrecked on the island with twelve of the crew of fourteen surviving the wreck. After 20 days the ships carpenter died, his bones were stripped of their "beef" and the fat from the kidney was used to soothe frostbitten feet. After 24 days, a passing vessel discovered the shipwrecked survivors and brought them to shore.
Cape Neddick Light / Nubble Light
The Nubble Lighthouse is located in York, Maine on a peninsula between Short and Long Sands Beachs. This beautiful landmark is an active light and is located on a small rocky island at the end of the point. This is one of the most scenic and photographed lighthouses in the world.
The Cape Neddick Lighthouse stands on Nubble Island about 100yd (90m) off Cape Neddick Point. It is commonly known as Nubble Light or simply, The Nubble. Cape Neddick Point is at the north end of Long Sands Beach in the village of York Beach. The lighthouse is inaccessible to the general public, but the nearby mainland is occupied by Sohier Park which offers a telescope with which to view the lighthouse and a gift shop with a "Nubble" theme. Sohier Park is named for William Davis Sohier, a lawyer from Boston who gave the land to the Town of York in 1929. His father bought the land for fine duck hunting.
In 1874 Congress appropriated $15,000 to build The Cape Neddick Light Station at the "Nubble" and was authorized for construction in 1877 by President Rutherford B.Hayes, with plans in the works since 1837 to build a lighthouse on the site. In 1879 construction finally began.
The Cape Neddick Light Station was built on a nub of land. Most of these early explorers' accounts describe the dangers faced by Sea Captains sailing along a jagged piece of land tucked between two sandy beaches, known as the nub or knob at the end of a point, thus "The Nubble".
It was first lighted on July 1, 1879, electrified in 1938 and automated in 1987. The current beacon is a 1000 watt bulb behind red plaxiglass and flashes 3 seconds on and three seconds off and is visible for 13 miles. The automated foghorn is activated by the atmosphere and blasts every 10 seconds.
The tower is 41 feet high and 88 feet above sea level and built of brick that has been covered by metal sheathing. Thirty-three circular iron steps go up to the lantern room. The first innkeeper was Nathanial Otterson, and the last was Russell Ahlgren.
Living quarters consisted of 3 bedrooms, kitchen, dining, living, and pantry. The smaller red house was once used for fuel and the little white house was a workshop. The light is maintained by the Coast Guard, but the Town of York owns the property and buildings. It is maintained by the York Park and Recreation Committee.
The Lighthouse features a charming, Victorian keeper's house with gingerbread trim and a lantern with miniature cast iron lighthouses on its railing. When NASA officials picked photos for the Voyager Spacecraft, intended to identify the Earth if the craft fell into extraterrestrial hands, they included a photo of the Nubble.
Goat Island Lighthouse
The Goat Island Light is a remarkable lighthouse on an island, viewable from the Cape Porpoise Pier. Built in 1880, this 25-foot lighthouse flashes white every six seconds as it stands guard over Cape Porpoise Harbor. The dangerous Goat Island rocks claimed 46 vessels between 1865 and 1920. However, due to the keepers at Goat Island picking up survivors, there was not one death.
In 1990, Goat Island became the next to the last lighthouse in the U.S. to be automated. For a time during the presidency of George Bush Sr., secret service agents lived at Goat Island, which offers a good vantage point on Bush’s estate at Walker’s Point.
The least glamorous of Seacoast lighthouses, 50-foot high Whaleback Light sits in the middle of the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth Harbor, not far from Fort Constitution and Fort Point Light in New Castle. Built of granite and unpainted, Whaleback was erected in 1863 on a bit of land where another station had been established 41 years before. The light was positioned to protect the Portsmouth, NH harbor.
The lighthouse is not open the public, but it can be seen from many spots along the shore with the best viewing point at Fort Foster Park of Kittery Maine.
The station, known in early records as "Whales Back" was first established in 1820. In 1829, a replacement was built for $20,000. The tower was upgraded in 1855 with a new lantern. A fog bell and tower were installed in 1863. In 1869, storms had caused cracks in the tower and foundation causing the decision to build a new tower in 1872. The new tower was built with dovetailed granite blocks alongside the original tower, which was removed in 1880. At some point the fog bell was replaced with a horn and in 1991, the volume of the horn was reduced because it was damaging the integrity of the structure.
Wood Island Lighthouse
Located at the entrance of the Saco River in Biddeford Pool, the Wood Island Lighthouse, is full of ghosts, murder, dramatic rescues, and even a famous dog. The ghost of a murdered lobsterman is claimed to be responsible for many strange events occurring on the island. Thomas Orcutt, a former sea captain, served there for 19 years. His dog, Sailor, became famous for ringing the station’s fog bell with his mouth.
"I have often said that the lure of flying is the lure of beauty. That the reasons flyers fly, whether they know it or not, is the aesthetic appeal of flying."