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New England Lighthouses | A Lighthouse Life List

The vista here is a bonus: From the octagonal tower of this granite lighthouse are views of three states: New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Some lighthouses are now incorporated into parks and nature areas. Wood Island, for example, site of Wood Island Light off Biddeford, Maine, is an Audubon bird sanctuary.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees the area around Monomoy Point Light, on an island south of Chatham on Cape Cod. It’s used by the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History as a nature center, and the land around it is home to more than 300 species of birds.

But the most extraordinary natural lighthouse setting is the 3,335-acre Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, including Two Bush Island Light, outside Penobscot Bay, and Petit Manan Light, farther east in the Gulf of Maine and famous for its colony of puffins and its nesting birds, including Arctic terns.

So archetypal is Cape Neddick (“the Nubble”) Light off York Beach, Maine, that a photo of it was launched, along with other artifacts, aboard the Voyager II spacecraft in 1977. But space scientists weren’t the first to recognize the value of its appeal. One entrepreneurial keeper in the early 20th century ferried as many as 300 visitors a day to the lighthouse for 10 cents apiece. For a nickel more, his wife would give them tours. They were fired for neglecting the light.

New Hampshire may have only two coastal lighthouses, but one of them is second to none for intrigue. White Island Light, on the approach to Rye and Portsmouth, marks the Isles of Shoals, a forbidding chain of islands where Captain Kidd is thought to have buried some of his treasure. So desolate is this place that one keeper’s son didn’t see a tree till he was 10 years old. When the family visited the mainland, they called it “going to America.”

Lighthouse Tours
SLIDE SHOW: Lighthouses
All About Lighthouses
Newburyport Lighthouse Dinner

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Updated Monday, June 22nd, 2009

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4 Responses to New England Lighthouses | A Lighthouse Life List

  1. T. Rodrigues July 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

    Just finished reading this article in the print version of Yankee – we are amazed (and disappointed) that Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was not listed. It’s simply the best lighthouse – and grounds – imaginable. Just take a look at the Maine State Quarter!

  2. Jackie Normile July 28, 2009 at 8:58 am #

    I consider it a great day-if I am not working, the sun is out & I find myself at a lighthouse near to sunset…Yesterday it was Nobska and recently Chatham. Pemaquid is a wonderful lighthouse-both from the water and land. New England has so many that you can see, and some that should be more accessible.

  3. Greg Rogow August 30, 2009 at 8:54 am #

    Thank you , I really enjoyed your article. I have had the opportunity to photograph eighteen of the lights mentioned and hope to eventually shoot the rest.

    Another light worth mentioning is Scituate Light. The first keeper was Simeon Bates, who stayed at the station until his death in 1834. Bates and his wife, Rachel, had nine children, including two daughters, Rebecca and Abigail. These two sisters would become heroic figures in the history of American lighthouses.

    During the War of 1812, British warships frequently raided New England coastal towns. On June 11, 1814, British forces plundered and burned a number of vessels at Scituate. Keeper Bates fired two shots from a small cannon, angering the captain of a British warship as it departed.

    Less than three months later, Keeper Bates and most of his family were away, leaving 21-year-old Rebecca and 15-year-old (or, according to some accounts, 17-year-old) Abigail in charge. The sisters were horrified to see a British warship anchored in the harbor. They proceded to play a fife and drum while out of sight of the warship. The British thought the sound of the fife and drum signaled the approach of the Scituate town militia, and they hastily retreated.

    This is another of many interesting stories associated with New England lighthouses

  4. jacki wilmot April 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    what facinating stories and a part of NE I haven’t had the opportunity of exploring yet. thank you. We should all make a point of learning about these famous lighthouses.

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