Washington County, Maine, has ten lighthouses. But if you want to see the greatest concentration of lighthouses, visit the Washington County town of Lubec and nearby Campobello, New Brunswick, where there are four lighthouses within a ten mile radius. Each of these lighthouses has played a role in the seagoing tradition of Down East Maine.
A favorite is the famous candy-striped West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, at the easternmost point on the continental United States. The first lighthouse here was a wooden structure built in 1808. The present round brick building was built in 1858.
This is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine. This was one of the last manned lighthouses in Maine; it was automated in 1988. The light is lit 24 hours a day and can be seen 18-20 miles out to sea on a clear day. The 480-acre Quoddy Head State Park surrounds the lighthouse, offering visitors a picturesque trail along the rocky coast and an easy 1 1/2 mile trail in Quoddy Head Bog, an arctic tundra bog and one of the most unique bogs in the USA. The West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association opened a new Visitors Center in May 2002 in the keeper's house. The wheelchair-accessible Visitors Center and Art Gallery is open to the public free of charge from late May to mid October.
The other large area lighthouse is Head Harbor Light, also known as the East Quoddy Head Light. It is located at the east end of Campobello Island, at the entrance to Head Harbor. The lighthouse is just minutes from the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park. This lighthouse was built in 1850 and automated in 1975. It is the most photographed lighthouse in New Brunswick; its distinctive red cross on white background is known throughout the province and Canada.
The East Quoddy Head Light offers visitors two entertaining activities. At low tide, the adventurous can climb down a ladder and walk out to the lighthouse island across what will be ocean bottom at the next high tide. Review the local tide tables before visiting. A second enjoyable activity is whale watching off the point. In the summer, Minke and Finback whales are sighted almost daily.
There also are two smaller, but charming, lighthouses in the area. Mulholland Point Lighthouse was built in 1888 on the west side of Campobello to guide small coasters and freighters traveling into Cobscook and Passamaquoddy Bays through the Lubec Narrows. This route offered more shelter during foul weather than did the alternate route around the eastern side of Campobello Island.
This lighthouse is a wooden-framed octagonal tower 44 feet high; its basal diameter is 22 feet. The iron lantern, which sits about 60 feet above the high water line, once held a seventh order, dioptric, oil-fueled lamp. In 1962, when navigational lights were installed on the newly-built bridge that connects Lubec with Campobello Island, the lighthouse was decommissioned. It later was donated to the Roosevelt-Campobello International park.
The Lubec Channel Light, locally known as The Sparkplug, was built in 1890 at a cost of $20,000. It still functions as an aide to mariners passing through the Lubec Narrows. Built on a cement foundation, the lighthouse is 33 feet high. Its tower is 80 feet above the low-water mark. It was automated shortly after World War II. In 1989, the U.S. Coast Guard announced plans to demolish the Sparkplug and replace it with a newer, low-maintenance lighthouse. An outcry from the residents of Lubec and Campobello persuaded the Coast Guard to refurbish the historic light, and in 1993, the lighthouse was repaired at a cost of $600,000.
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Revised January 2003 by The Puffin Pines Country Gift Store & Visitor Information Center
US 1, PO Box 99, Whiting, ME 04691; Tel: 207-733-9782; www.puffinpines.com