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Maine Open Lighthouse Day – September 17, 2011

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What is it about lighthouses that make them so fascinating?

Personally, I really admire the craftsmanship and sheer guts needed to build these structures.18th & 19th century masons built these Lights in remote locations, sometimes on a cliff or a spit of rock in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by deadly rock, tide and wild. It’s amazing they were able to persevere.

Although these men were paid for their work, these lighthouses weren’t built for profit. These builders risked their lives building these great stone towers in order to make travel & trade safer.

On September 17th this year, the State will hold the third annual “Maine Open Lighthouse Day”; an invitation for the public to visit and see firsthand these structures that have withstood time & tide all these years. This is the largest event of its kind in the country, and last year over 18,000 people visited the 25 participating lighthouses.

This is the Burnt Island Lighthouse
The Burnt Island Lighthouse

There are a number of beautiful lighthouse that you can see from the decks of the Welch House. The most outstanding is the Burnt Island Light. It is the only structure on Burnt Island, named for the fact that they would burn off all the vegetation to let the grass grow. The following season, they would pack their sheep on a ship and drop them off on the island to graze. They also have a living history tour with actors playing the last Lighthouse Keeper and his family. It burns red.

Another great lighthouse that you can see from the Welch House is the Cuckolds.

This is the Cuckcolds Lighthouse
The Cuckcolds Lighthouse

Built in 1907, the lighthouse is not usually open to the public, but can be visited by ship from Boothbay Harbor. One of the last lighthouses built in Maine, the Cuckolds is short and squat, the Cuckcolds had an adjoining house that was destroyed during a storm in 1933. It burns white.

While you can’t see Ram Island light from the Welch House, you can take a short drive to Ocean Point in East Boothbay and have an excellent view from there.

This is the Ram Island Lighthouse
The Ram Island Lighthouse

The lighthouse and a Keeper’s house were both built in 1883, and was manned until 1965, when it became fully automated.

However, the big Kahuna is the Pemaquid Point light, located in Bristol on the next peninsula north. Built in 1827, the light sits on the most beautiful cliff with granite running to the sea.

This is the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse
The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

The only lighthouse to be used on American Currency, the Pemaquid Point Light is on the Maine State quarter. Restored in 2007, the light is absolutely pristine now, and a visit should also include the Fisherman’s Museum, located in the adjoining Keeper’s House and a climb to the top.

I have been lucky enough to be at the base of the light when the lamp has been lit. Amazing.

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