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Bear Island Lighthouse

Bear Island lighthouse

Northeast Harbor, Maine
Built in 1839



Southeast entrance to Northeast Harbor. Privately owned.

Latitude: 44° 16' 59" N
Longitude: 68° 16' 10" W

Historic Stories:

Bear Island is part of the Cranberry Islands. Bear Island lighthouse was established in 1839 to help mariners entering Somes Sound into Northeast Harbor.

early image of Bear Island lighthouse

Early Bear Island Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

The lighthouse was completely rebuilt in 1889, and for a number of years during this period the island established a buoy depot for maintaining navigational aids and for buoy tenders to refuel.

In the early 1840s, there was discussion between the government and local mariners as to the need for the lighthouse. The government finally agreed with the locals and decided to keep the beacon active. One of the locals, a Captain Doyle, claimed that he would have lost his vessel with a valuable cargo during a voyage from Eastport, if it had not been for the light.

ariel view of Bear Island lighthouse

Early Bear Island Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

Elmo J. Turner was the keeper for some years in the 1930s and had a cow and some chickens on the island.

One day the cow had to be taken to the mainland using their dory, and then had to be brought back to the station. The anxious animal got very seasick on the way back.

In the late 1950s, Terry and Nancy Stanley lived at the lighthouse. Terry gained a local reputation regarding his creative skills during his spare time in carving elaborate wooden birds and fish.

The current 33-foot lighthouse was renovated in 1989, and today is privately owned.

waterside view of Bear Island Lighthouse




Places to Visit Nearby:

Mount Desert Island became an international tourist attraction in the nineteenth century as a main component of the Acadia National Park system. To accommodate the influx of international and American tourists from the sea, as well as many leaving on tours from the harbor, and for the local mariners, a series of lighthouses were built on and around Mount Desert Island. There are many islands in this area, and lighthouses were built atop some of these to guide mariners through the Blue Hill and Frenchman Bays, and Somes Sound.

Bear Island sits atop a rocky island

Northeast Harbor provides a unique opportunity to take the the Islesford ferry from Northeast Harbor to visit the other Cranberry Islands. There are tour boats that sometimes pass the lighthouse and a mail boat ferry you can take to Great Cranberry Island and Islesford that goes past the lighthouse.

Islesford offers a historical museum, art gallery, and grocery store at the island; Sea Princess Cruises offer tours that pass by the lighthouse along with wildlife tours of the area. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company offers tours that pass closely by the lighthouse.

Visit these islands and you’ll find yourself going back in time as little has changed over the years.

lobstermen hauling traps

Lobstermen Hauling Traps

Strange “go cart” like vehicles may pass you by, as there are no strict rules to enforce safety, and usually not needed. Most of these island communities are self-supporting and watch out for one another.

The Islesford Historical Museum located on Little Cranbury Island, which can be reached by mail boat, or some of the tour boats, provides exhibits that tell the story of the Cranberry Islands and its people through ship models, navigation aids, photographs, and tools.

When you hitch a ride on these mail boats, they are very inexpensive, and provide you the unique opportunity to visit neighboring islands to disconnect from the mainland and relax.



Contact Info:
Acadia National Park
53 Main Street
Bar Harbor, ME
(207) 288-0300.



Local Boat Tours

Cruises mentioned below may offer many types of excursions. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises, some may pass by Bear Island Lighthouse during sailing charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, fishing tours and other types of excursions.

Sea Princess Cruises
Narrated wildlife cruises.
Box 545
Mount Desert, ME 04660
Phone: (207) 276-5352



Islesford Ferry Terminal
Main Rd,
Cranberry Isles, ME 04625
Phone: (207) 244-5882



Cranberry Cove Ferry

Departs from the upper town dock at 110 Clark Point Rd in Southwest Harbor.

Phone: (207) 244-5882



Beal and Bunker Mailboat and Ferry

Year-round service to Great Cranberry, Little Cranberry, and, on request, Sutton Island, leaving from the Northeast Harbor town pier.

Northeast Harbor

Phone: (207) 244-3575



Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company
In addiition to whale watching, nature, and fishing excusions, they provide three cruises that involve lighthouses. A Puffin and Lighthouse cruise, a park ranger tour that includes exploring Baker Island lighthouse, and a Somes Sound and Lighthouse Tour.
1 West Street
Bar Harbor, Maine 04609
Phone: (207) 288-2386 or 1-888-WHALES-4

Lighthouses Egg Rock Light, Winter Harbor Light, Baker Island Light, Petit Manan Light, and Bear Island Light.



Acadian Boat Tours
Acadian Boat Tours, out of Bar Harbor, uses four boats and offers various nature, puffin, and fishing cruises, and a Somes Sound Fjord Tour, along with 3 special lighthouse tours each week, and National Park trips. Visitors can view vintage homes of Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Seal Harbor, and the quaint village of Southwest Harbor.
119 Eden St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Phone (207) 801-2300

Lighthouses: Egg Rock Light, Bear Island Light, Baker Island Light, Petit Manan Light, Winter Harbor Light



Schooner Mary Day
Windjammer sailing that included 4 and 6-day lighthouse cruises.
P.O. Box 798, Camden, Maine 04843
Phone: (800) 992-2218




Scenic Flights


Scenic Flights of Acadia
Has special lighthouse cruises for visitors to have a unique aerial view of 6 beacons in the Acadia region, along with the landscape of Mount Desert Island of Acadia.

200 Main Street (ticket office)
Bar Harbor, Maine 04609
Phone: (207) 667-6527

1044 Bar Harbor Road | Route 3
Trenton, Maine 04605




My 300-page book (with over 360 images), Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, published by Schiffer Publishing, provides human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special trips.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions






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