Monday, December 11, 2017

Boon Island Lighthouse

Location: BOON ISLAND, NINE MILES OFF THE COAST OF YORK BEACH, YORK, MAINE
Station Established: 1811
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1855
Operational? YES
Automated? 1980
Deactivated: N/A
Foundation Materials: SURFACE ROCK
Construction Materials: GRANITE
Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
Markings/Pattern: NATURAL
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: SECOND ORDER FRESNEL

Historical Information:

  • Boon Island is an inhospitable piece of land about 9 miles from the coast of York, Maine. The first lighthouse on Boon Island was a 50 foot wooden tower built in 1799. It lasted five years before a storm destroyed it.
  • A stone day beacon was erected to replace the wooden tower. It was used until 1811 when a new tower was built. At this time the station was officially established. The tower was only 32 feet above sea level and was destroyed in a storm in 1832.
  • Finally a tower that could stand the storms of the Atlantic was built. A stone 133 foot tower was built in 1855. The tower is 25 feet in diameter at the base and 12 feet at the top. It is the tallest lighthouse in New England from base to tip but it is not the highest light above sea level. A new keeper’s dwelling was also built at this time.
  • In 1899 the keeper’s house was basically rebuilt and a second story was added.
  • The harsh conditions and frequent, violent storms led to most keepers staying just a few years.
  • The light was still manned until the blizzard of 1978 struck. That storm flooded the keeper’s house with five feet of water and scattered boulders all over the island. The keepers sought refuge in the tower. They had to be rescued by helicopter. Shortly after that storm the light was automated. The second order Fresnel lens was removed in 1993 and replaced by a modern optic. The original lens is on display in the Kittery Historical and Naval Museum in Kittery, Maine.
  • In May 2000 the Coast Guard licensed the light to the American Lighthouse Foundation. The light remains an active aid to navigation but is not open to the public.

Researched and written by Melissa Buckler, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society. - USCG