Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dice Head Light aka Dyce Head Light

An handsome light, photo by wikipedia - click
  Located in Castine and privately owned the light dates back to 1828 a number of years after the city was won back from the British in the War of 1812. 
  Built at a cost of $5000.00 the rubblestone tower was, at one time, enclosed in wood.  The tower is 42 feet and the added lantern stands 129 feet above the high water level.  It was lit by 10 lamps with 14 inch reflectors.
  The first keeper was Jacob Shelburne, a former sea captain, he wrote the following:
I always rise before the sun
And up the winding stairs I run
Put out the light, when that is done
Another day is just begun.

So pass my time from day to day
While months and years do roll away
And when the evening doth return
Behold the lamps begin to burn

Both bright & clear
To show the vessels how to steer
And if they steer well to the right
They’ll clear the shoal above the light.

The light should be on the other side
Where the channel is both deep and wide
But some Castine men or ginus [genius] bright
Said we will petition for a light.

They owned the Head, the rocks and land
Is a fact we understand
That was the reason why they said
It shall be built on Dice’s Head
A Coast Guard photo taken in the 1870's
An old postcard photo from a different angle

Friday, January 27, 2012

Deer Island Thorofare (Mark Island) Light

A nice look, nice view too from
  Deer Island Thorofare is in eastern Penobscot Bay, and the light is just south of Stonington on six acre Mark Island.
  Shipping of granite (most cities in the northeast USA were built using Maine granite), and an increase in local fishing made a light necessary.  Congress appropriated $5000.00 for the construction and $175.00 for purchase of the island from David Thurlow.  The tower is made square and of brick and was attached to a two story keepers quarters.  The tower (square) is one of two in Maine that is round inside with a circular staircase, the other is at Fort Point in Stockton Springs.
  In 1874 the keeper was gravely ill, he was tended by his wife and she kept the light burning all the while.  Mr. Holden died and Melissa Colby Holden, his wife, became the keeper - a first for a woman.  Lighthouse keepers wives always kept the dining table set but covered with a cloth.  Melissa Holden always, even when Mr. Holden was alive, kept a loaded revolver under the cloth in case someone came on the island.  She once emptied a chamber pot on unwitting trespassers, maybe that's where the phrase "shithead" came from, I don't know.
  In December 1997 the Coast Guard transferred ownership of the island to the Island Heritage Trust,  the public can visit the island by boat.  For more information contact The Island Heritage Trust,
P O Box 42, Deer Isle, ME 04627.
The location, Deer Isle is at the end of Maine route 15.
A U S Coast Guard photo from the 1870's
A Chip Ross photo of round stairs in a square tower.
An old postcard,, the Smithsonian.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cuckolds Light

Thanks to for this photo
  It's an odd name for a lighthouse I guess, it's named for some ledges in the Thames River in Britain, so the odds are the location was named by a transplanted Londoner.
  On the other hand it is a bit of an odd lighthouse; there was little room to build on so the tower and lantern were built on the roof of the keepers house.
  A tripod day beacon was in place by 1874, in 1890 Congress approved to appropriate $25,000.00 for the construction of a light station.
  The location is off shore of Southport Maine and is only seen from a boat or by air.  The Light was automated in 1974, and the optic lens is powered by solar panels installed on the ledge.
Seen from the air in a US Coast Guard photo
Shown during reconstruction in 2011. for more info
A personal note:  Our Internet service was not operation yesterday until late in the day.  I decided to wait until my usual time this morning.  Sorry for missing a day, all is well and I'm in good health for a geezer.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Crabtree Ledge Light

A photo from
  Many ships were guided to the Taunton River to load granite and lumber at Hancock Point in the 1800's and early 1900's.  The Crabtree Ledge light was approved by Congress in 1896, and given a sum of $25,000.00 for construction.  A Massachusetts company installed the cast iron "sparkplug type" Light.  The light was lit for the first time in January 1890 with a fifth-order Fresnel lens and flashed a white light every 2 minutes.
  Even with the light working the Steamer Sebanoa smashed into the light on November 18, 1896, the Steamer ran aground on Hancock Point.
  With the start of ferry service in 1933 the Crabtree Ledge Light was discontinued.  It was sold to the father of Newbold Noyes, editor of the Washington Star for the grand sum of $115.00.
  The Light was sold for scrap during World War Two, and the Crabtree Ledge Light no longer exists in any form, except for a very few photos.
In it's early days the Light was painted brown.  USCG photo.
An early postcard.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cape Elizabeth Light

Edward Hopper painting of the East Light - click
  Cape Elizabeth Light is actually two lights the East and West towers. Navigation was, and is, tricky into and out of Portland Harbor/South Portland Oil Terminal.  There are six lighthouses in the area, not all still in service - but that's a bunch.
  Local mariners started asking for a beacon in 1628 (Americans have been critical of government actions for a long time, I guess).  At the time the area was a part of Falmouth, which has since been spilt up into Falmouth, Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth.  After many shipwrecks and close calls a light was funded in 1828 (what's 200 years between friends?), and work began on the West Light, the East Light followed soon after.  These lights were replaced in 1874 with identical cast iron towers.
After its military use in World War II, the west tower passed into private ownership. It was sold to the highest bidder in 1959 along with several buildings and 10.5 acres of land. In 1971, it was purchased by actor Gary Merrill (Bette Davis' ex-husband) for $28,000. During his time at Cape Elizabeth, Merrill was regarded as an eccentric. Among other things, he gained attention by putting a donkey in the back of his Cadillac convertible and driving through town. He later ran unsuccessfully for the Maine state legislature. The west light was sold twice in the 1980s. (

  The East tower was automated in the 1960's, and the house is in private hands.  Both are still standing, two of the best examples of cast iron towers on the east coast, both are visible from Two Lights State Parks, and a few other places.
The East light today.
From the top of the Left tower looking right to the East.
The West tower today

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Burnt Island Light

Burnt Island Light-click
  Not to be confused with Burnt Coat Harbor Light which I wrote about earlier (before I discovered the alphabet).  Located in the Town of Boothbay; Townsend when it was built.
  Settlers who depended on the sea for a livelihood kept running into trouble when entering the port in Boothbay and around the area of Damariscove Island.  Development of plans in 1812 and slowed by the war of the same name, a lighthouse was funded in 1820.
  A rubblestone tower some 20 feet tall and capped with an octagonal lantern 7 feet tall.  Lit by 10 whale oil lamps with 13 inch reflectors the Light went into service in 1821.
  The Light is now owned by the State of Maine, Department of Marine Resources.  It has been "restored" by grants from Steven and Tabitha King, the MBNA Foundation and the Davis Foundation, it is open to the public, and is reached by boat.
A recent photo courtesy of Balmy Harbor Cruises
An 1859 photo from the National Archives