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Maine Lighthouses: Rockland Breakwater

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Today's jigs are the two lighthouses around Rockland Harbor in Maine. Rockland was a major center for not only fishing, fish processing and ice harvesting, but for granite quarrying and lime (limestone was quarried, then burned in kilns to produce lime, an important ingredient in building construction). "The community of East Thomaston, with 80 limekilns on its waterfront, was renamed Rockland in the mid-1800s."

Rockland Harbor was an important place of refuge during storms and rough seas, but high waves and storm-driven seas during severe northeasters periodically caused great damage to the lime kilns along the shore. It was finally agreed to build a breakwater, in spite of the significant cost. Over 18 years from 1881 to 1899, using 700,000 tons of granite, and at a cost of 3/4 of a million dollars, the Bodwell Granite Company constructed a breakwater extending almost a mile into the harbor from the north shore.

The end of the breakwater had to be marked for navigators, so a moveable light was placed at the current end during construction. Once complete, the current lighthouse was built on the end of the breakwater, going into service in October 1902.

The light was automated in 1965. and the Coast Guard announced they were going to tear down the building. A public outcry resulted in private hands taking over responsibility for maintenance of the building, which passed to the Rockland City Council in 1998 under the Maine Lights Program. The Friends of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse have undertaken significant periodic restoration since then, and the lighthouse has open houses on weekends during the tourist season. More data is available at http://lighthouse.cc/rocklandbreakwater/history.html and at http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=528.

P.S. - At the lighthouse site, the breakwater is 65 feet deep, 43 feet wide at the top, and 175 feet wide at the bottom. And as always, the lighthouse is surrounded by the ubiquitous floats marking lobster traps!

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