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Maine Lighthouses: Whaleback Ledge

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The Maine/New Hampshire border runs through the middle of Portsmouth Harbor (with periodic acrimonious discussions as to just where). Whaleback Ledge is on the northern Maine side, in the town of Kittery, about a mile offshore.

The first lighthouse was built there in 1829-30 - but "was so poorly built due to an unscrupulous contractor's corner cutting that keepers often wondered during storms if the entire building would collapse into the sea." For example, the contractor didn't level the foundation; he filled it in with rubble which washed away in the first real storm. "The first keeper, Samuel E. Hascall, quickly discovered that the building was so leaky that he was soaked every time a wave hit the lighthouse. The tower was later cased over with wood 'to prevent the keeper from being drowned out by the sea washing through all the crevices.'" The tower shook so when struck by waves that furniture moved around, and the rattling of the light apparatus drowned out voices.

The longer the tower continued to stand, the less bureaucrats in Washington were willing to commit the money to build a replacement, in spite of architect's recommendations and the pleas of those responsible for running and maintaining it. Eventually, in 1870, the funds were allocated, and the current tower built.

The Whaleback Lighthouse was automated in 1963. In October of 2005, it was "licensed" to the American Lighthouse Foundation, which now has responsibility for maintenance. In June 2007, the lighthouse was deemed excess by the Coast Guard, was offered at no cost to eligible entities, and was awarded to the ALF.

[I have to wonder why the Coast Guard is giving away these lighthouses, then deeming them "excess" (i.e. redundant, or obsolete), when they continue to serve the purpose they've served for a century and a half, and the Coast Guard still provides equipment - e.g. they installed a modern LED beacon and a radio-activated foghorn at Whaleback Lighthouse in 2009, which allows it to be solar powered. This somehow smacks to me of part of the Republican program to reduce public services during Dubya's presidency.]

Here we see the lighthouse behind a lobster boat out of Kittery, with a full load of traps (note the staining on the boat's side by the derrick, which is used to haul in the traps).


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Thank you for "enlighten" us! Nice story and pic...

Liked the colors in the photo, enjoyed the puzzle, and the interesting info.