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Maine Lighthouses: Curtis Island, Camden Harbor

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Camden Harbor is considered by many to be the prettiest spot in Maine; Curtis Island guards the entrance. The first white settler in the area entered Camden Harbor from New Hampshire in 1769. His Negro cook was said to have pointed to the 7-acre island and designated it "his island"; until 1934, when it was renamed after the publishing magnate who was a summer resident, it was known as "Negro Island".

The first light was completed in 1836; both the tower and keeper's house were rubblestone. The tower was split top to bottom by a storm in 1842, and was later sheathed in wood and shingled in 1855 to stop the leaking; in 1868 the house was repaired and improved. In 1889, the keeper's house was replaced by a frame dwelling, and a new barn, boathouse and boat-slip were built. In 1896, the old rubblestone tower was finally replaced by a new brick tower, the one which stands today.

"The Boston-Bangor Steamships used Negro Island as a signal station for a number of years. The lighthouse keeper would raise a ball on a pole near the tower to indicate that a ship from one direction or the other was on its way. As villagers noted the ball, a cry could be heard throughout Camden, 'The ball is up!', and all with an interest in the ship's arrival would start out for the wharf. Also tied to the steamships was a summertime 'sport'. Those who wanted to prove their oarsmanship would place their rowboats in line with the wake from the great vessels to test their skills."

"In 1970, Camden residents convinced the Coast Guard that the light station should be turned over to the town rather than being auctioned to a private individual. The town took responsibility for the island and all its buildings save the tower, designated Curtis Island a park, and later hired a caretaker to look after the station. In a vote of 1358 for and 137 against, the town of Camden agreed to accept ownership of the tower on Curtis Island in November, 1997 under the Maine Lights Program."

More information is available at, which is the source of these quotes.


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Great information and very interesting. Thank you, dondi. Beautiful picture(s).