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Heron Neck Light

Heron Neck Light

Heron Neck Light

Nearby town:
Vinalhavem, ME


Year Light First Lit:

Lighthouse Automated:

Lighthouse Operational:
Yes, active aid to navigation

Tower Height: 30 feet

Present Optics:
300 MM

Viewed by boat/boat charter

Open to public:
No, closed to public

Find Heron Neck Light

Click map image to open a Google Interactive Map for Heron Neck Lighthouse.

Google Map


Heron Neck Light - Located on Green Island and the inspiration for the Maine Lights Program

Heron Neck Light (+44° 1' 30.00", -68° 51' 44.00") is located in Penobscot Bay, on Green Island, at the east entrance to Hurricane Sound. It began as a way to help guide mariners into Vinalhaven’s Carver’s Harbor, a primary center for fishing and lobster boats. Now, it is an active navigation aid for the U.S. Coast Guard. Its characteristic is a fixed red light with a white sector, and the fog signal blasts once every 30 seconds.

In 1854, the 30-foot brick cylindrical lighthouse was built and attached to a brick dwelling. A fifth-order Fresnel lens was installed. Originally, the station was outfitted with a fog bell, but was later replaced with a siren.

There is a unique story tied to this lighthouse. In the early 1900s, keeper Captain Levi Farnham trained his Newfoundland Nemo to bark loudly whenever he heard boats or ships blowing their foghorns. As soon as fog set in, Nemo would walk to the end of the neck and listen for approaching vessels. When he heard them, he would bark loudly to warn people of the incoming ships. Many years down the road, Rover (Nemo’s successor), provided the same service. Understandably, these dogs earned their titles as “the fog dogs.” As appreciation, grateful mariners were known to throw treats to the dogs as they sailed past in fairer weather.

In 1895, the original keeper’s dwelling was torn down and replaced with a wooden house. The original tower was reattached to the new dwelling. An oil house was added in 1903, and still stands today. A boathouse and slip were added in 1904. The keepers kept two large cisterns in the dwelling basement to store their fresh water.

The last civilian keeper was Andrew Bennett of Vinalhaven and he served at the station for over 20 years. The light was automated in 1982, and a new 300mm lens took the place of the old Fresnel lens. In 1989, the keeper’s house was badly damaged by an electrical fire but the tower was saved by a Halon fire suppression system. The Coast Guard proposed demolishing the remains, but citizens opposed the plan and immediately jumped into alternative courses of action. The Island Institute of Rockland offered to assume title to the station and to restore and maintain the keeper’s dwelling.

This Heron Neck project inspired the Island Institute to create the Maine Lights Program. This program enables Maine lighthouses to be turned over to responsible parties, such as non-profits, educational institutions, or government entities. Many Maine lighthouses have benefited from this program.

The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Heron Neck Light is not open to the public and is best viewed from the water. No regularly scheduled cruises pass by the light, but many lighthouse watchers can privately charter a boat to get a first-hand look.



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