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Whitehead Light

Whitehead Light

Whitehead Light

Nearby town:
Tenant's Harbor, ME


Year Light First Lit:

Lighthouse Automated:

Lighthouse Operational:
Yes, active aid to navigation

Tower Height: 41 feet

Present Optics:
300 MM

Viewed by boat/boat tour

Open to the public

Available for rent

Courses taught on premises

Find Whitehead Light

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

Google Map


Whitehead Light - Protecting one of the foggiest spots on the Maine coast

Whitehead LightWhen you are located in one of the foggiest spots on the Maine coast, you need a light. Whitehead Light, also known as White Head Island Light (+43° 58' 43.00", -69° 7' 27.00"), is located in Penobscot Bay at the southwestern entrance to Muscle Ridge Channel near St. George. Whitehead Light is an active U.S. Coast Guard navigation aid with a characteristic of a green occulting light every four seconds. Its fog signal blasts twice every 30 seconds.

Congress approved a $7,000 budget to build a light station on Whitehead Island in March 1803, and contractors Benjamin Beal and Duncan Thaxter built the buildings in 1804. The first keeper, Ellis Dolph, was hired in June of that same year. According to history reports, Dolph sold the oil that was intended for the light to earn some extra income. Government officials became suspicious at the level of Dolph's oil consumption, and soon discovered that storekeepers in Thomaston had been buying barrels of oil from the industrious keeper. Dolph was soon relieved of his duties after his side business was exposed.

Whitehead LightAlthough Whitehead Island is reportedly one of the foggiest spots on the coast, the station didn’t get its first fog bell until 1829. Then, in 1838, the station became the proud recipient of the first tide-driven fog bell invented by Andrew Morse as a “perpetual fog bell.” In 1842, the new bell system was damaged in a storm, so the keeper tied a line to the clapper and ran the line into his bedroom, where he could sound the fog bell from his bed. A more traditional fog bell was installed in 1853, later replaced by a steam-driven fog whistle in 1869. In 1933, two internal combustion engines that operated on an air compressor replaced the steam boilers that fueled the fog signal. Two new foghorns were installed, and the dwelling was supplied with electricity for the first time.

In March of 1831, the tower and dwelling were rebuilt. The new rubblestone tower featured a wrought-iron octagonal lantern. The new stone dwelling featured three downstairs rooms and three small rooms in an attic. In 1852, a new 41-foot lighthouse, designed by renowned architect Alexander Parris, was built on the site, along with a new wooden dwelling. A third-order Fresnel lens was installed in 1857.

The light was automated in 1982, and the Fresnel lens was replaced by a modern optic. If you visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum here in Rockland, you can see this displayed Fresnel lens. The light was converted to solar power in 2001.

Whitehead Light is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tower is closed to the public, but some great views are accessible from the many tour boats that pass by the island.

Whitehead Light is available for rent in season and we teach various continuing education courses.

See all the possibilities at the Whitehead Light website.


TakeMe2 Communications | 2 Main Street | Building 17 - Suite 301H | Biddeford, ME 04005 | 207-712-8595