When you think of images of Maine, what comes to mind? Fresh seafood? Rocky Shores? Seagulls? When I think of Maine, I think of lighthouses. In fact, Maine is commonly referred to as The Lighthouse State. There are 65 historical lighthouses still standing and spread out along 5,000 miles of coastline, inlets and islands. Imagine sailing in unfamiliar waters with the help of only a chart and compass. These lighthouses have been instrumental in guiding sailors and fishermen safely back into harbor for hundreds of years.
We are fortunate to have the opportunity to visit two lighthouses on our Coast of Maine tour. One of them is the cliffside Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse that marks the entrance to Bass Harbor on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island. The lighthouse was built of brick in 1858 and was not automated until 1974. Now, the lighthouse lens has a range of 15 miles. There is still a keeper’s house there that remains in its original form, with the exception of a 10-foot section that was added in 1900. The keeper’s house currently serves as a full-time residence for a U.S. Coast Guard family. Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, and is one of the most photographed lighthouses in New England. It is easily accessible by bicycle and is in a stunning cliffside location. There are a few different vantage points, one of which you can get by venturing down the cliff staircase for an ocean level view.
The second lighthouse we have an opportunity to see is located on Swan’s Island. Swan’s Island is about six miles off shore from Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park and is accessed by a ferry ride. The Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station was built in 1872. It’s also referred to as the Swan’s Island Lighthouse or the Hockamock Head Lighthouse. Until 1974 the lighthouse was operated manually. The lighthouse keeper kept the light shining, and the family lived in the keeper’s house. Burnt Coat Harbor was a busy commercial harbor famous for mackerel fishing, and the lighthouse beacon guided schooners and smaller boats safely into the harbor. Burnt Coat Harbor Light Station is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
So if you are interested in lighthouses perched on rocky shores, beautiful seaside cycling, fresh lobster and other seafood, and exploring the lovely carriage roads in Acadia, come with us and visit Maine!