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.
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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.”