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Burnt Coat Harbor
(Hockamock Head) Lighthouse

Burnt Coat Harbor lighthouse

Swan’s Island, Maine
Built in 1839

Location:

Southern tip of Swan's Island, marking the entrance to Burnt Coat Harbor, Swan's Island's main port.

Latitude: 44° 08' 03" N
Longitude: 68° 26' 50" W

Historic Stories:

Swan’s Island was first explored by Samuel de Champlain in 1604 and was frequented by the local Indians for fishing and hunting. The Island’s name came from James Swan, who bought the island and had participated in the Boston Tea Party that helped to start the Revolution.

In the 19th century, the island was involved in the lobstering, fishing, and granite quarrying industries. With the increasing traffic in Burnt Coat Harbor, two range light lighthouses were established in 1872 atop Hockamock Head, a large rocky hill along the shoreline. The range lights proved confusing to many mariners, and were considered to be responsible for at least one shipwreck in each year of service.

In 1884, the Coast Guard granted the residents their requests and discontinued one of the lights, leaving the current 33-foot white square tower.

early image of Burnt Coat lighthouse

Early Burnt Coat Harbor
Courtesy US Coast Guard

In the early 1900’s, during a fierce storm, a schooner filled with coal broke apart in a nearby ledge. The crew survived the ordeal and many local residents enjoyed the additional coal found around the area for fuel that following winter.

In 1982, the Coast Guard, trying to save money by putting a clear sealant over the browning exterior of the paint peeling lighthouse, drew numerous outcries from the locals as the lighthouse was “blending” into the landscape behind. The Coast Guard heard the complaints and repainted the lighthouse to its white exterior.

The main structural components of the lighthouse were renovated in 2006, and additional interior renovations were made on the Keeper's house in the summer of 2009, so overnight stays are available.

Burnt Coat Harbor light during renovations

 

 

Places to Visit Nearby:

Access is by boat only from Bass Harbor. You can take the Swan’s Island Ferry (it can take cars) to get to Swan’s Island and drive, or take a long hike to the lighthouse.

exploring the grounds around Burnt Coat Harbor light The grounds are open to the public, and during the summer months tours available inside the lighthouse.

Visitors can also stay overnight in the Keeper's house apartment.

The area is quite often foggy, especially in the mornings, but is very quiet.

On this quiet island of 370 year round residents, you'll feel as if time has not changed in over 40 years here.
lobster traps at Swan's Island in Maine

Everyone waves a friendly hello here. You can stay overnight at either Jeanie’s B&B, or the Harbor Watch Motel (need reservations). There are only two places to eat on this island, the Island Bake Shop, which is like going to someone's house, for lunch and breakfast in the summertime with great homemade meals, and the Boat House Restaurant, also excellent food.

There is also a quarry filled with fresh deep water to jump in on a hot day like a Tom Sawyer would. You'll also find a general store and a small beach on the island.

early morning with fog by Burnt Coat harbor light tower

 

Directions to the Lighthouse:

Directions for a Distant View

 

 

Contact Info:
Burnt Coat Harbor Light Organization

also known as FOSIL (Friends of the Swans Island Lighthouse)
433 Harbor Rd.,Swan’s Island, ME 04685
Phone: (207) 526-4085
Email: fosil@burntcoatharborlight.com

 

 

Local Boat Tours

Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below may offer many types of cruises. Some may pass by Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, fishing tours and other types of excursions.

 

Swan’s Island Ferry
Operated by the state on Maine Ferry Service. Swan's Island Ferry will take you to the island where you can drive or hike to the lighthouse.
118 Ferry Rd. Swan’s Island, ME, 04685 (207) 526-4273
(207) 244-3254

 

 

Scenic Flights

Acadia Air Tours
Flights from a Biplane or glider. Lighthouse tour includes Schoodic Peninsula, the community of Winter Harbor, the Cranberry Islands, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor and four area lighthouses.
Bar Harbor Airport
Trenton, ME 04605
Phone: (207) 667-7627
E-mail: acadiaair@acadia.net

 

 

 

My 300-page book (with over 360 images), Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, provides human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses in the northeast, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special vacations, including haunted lighthouses and lighthouses you can stay at, and all kinds of sailing and windjamming tours.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and attractions

 

 

 

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