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Curtis Island Lighthouse

Curtis Island lighthouse

Camden, Maine
Built in 1832



Marking the entrance to Camden Harbor on Curtis Island. Private residence. Grounds and lighthouse are closed to the public.

Latitude: 44° 12' 06" N
Longitude: 69° 02' 54" W


Historic Stories:

Prior to being named Curtis Island, the island was called Negro island. The story goes that when an early settler came into Camden harbor he had an African cook aboard. The African said the white man could have the mainland, but he wanted to stay on the little island.

The lighthouse was first built in 1832 under President Andrew Jackson.

Curtis Island light vintage image from coast guard

Early Curtis Island Light
Courtesy of US Coast Guard

Decades later, it was rebuilt in 1896. The current lighthouse structure stands 52 feet above water guarding the entrance to Camden Harbor.

In 1993, a lighthouse caretaker believed she found a sick dolphin on the shoreline, which later died. Upon inspection it was found to be a rare beaked whale. What is interesting about this story is that there has never been a confirmed sighting at sea of this rare whale, and there have only been 16 beaked whales found in North America and only 6 found in Europe.

Camden was also a world class shipbuilding center and was directly involved in building some of the largest sailing ships. In fact, the first six-masted sailing vessel, the George W. Wells, was built at the Holly. M. Bean Shipyard in Camden.

Note: For more historic details about shipyards involved in constructing the largest sailing ships, or about building the first six-masted ship, select the appropriate blog link above to be directed to my section of Lighthouse Stories.

In 1934, when Cyrus Curtis, a Maine native who became famous as the publisher of the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and other magazines, gave the town of Camden waterfront land and a building (which became the Camden Yacht Club), the town decided to change the name of the island to Curtis Island.

In 1998 the town of Camden assumed ownership of Curtis Island and the lighthouse.



Places to Visit:

Curtis Island where the lighthouse resides is now a public park, which you can access by private boat. The lighthouse itself is not open to the public.

Camden is a beautiful affluent tourist town with its specialty shops and restaurants, and its scenic harbor, which boasts as being the yacht capital of the world. Indeed, people from all over the world come here by land and sea.

There are plenty of tour boats and schooner windjammer cruises that will take you out to neighboring islands, around the harbor, or cruise up and down the coast. Camden Harbor sailboats

In Camden, explore the Merryspring Gardens as Maine’s horticultural treasure, or attend the Camden Opera House.

Camden Harbor Park & Amphitheatre provides great views of this picturesque harbor, and you may be treated to concerts, festivals, and theater productions.

A few miles up US Route 1 you'll find Camden Hills State Park with over 5,000 picturesque acres for hiking, picnicking, and camping.

hilltop view of Camden Harbor

View of Camden Harbor
from Mount Battie

You can hike up to or drive to the top of Mount Battie where you'll find some spectacular views of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay.

For more private excursions, Moon Dog Excursions offers cruises on a lobster boat from Rockport Harbor to Camden Harbor to view Curtis Island and Indian Island lighthouses on their Two Harbor tour. They offer Sunrise and Sunset tours, Island Excursions, and Island Lobster Bakes cruises.

Off Route 52, in Camden, you’ll find a mile long easy trail to hike to Maiden Cliff, for some great views of Megunticook Lake. A few miles inland, on 1,200-foot Ragged Mountain, as part of the Georges River Land trust, the Camden Snow Bowl is a four-season destination. You can hike and bike this beautiful location, which in many places is quite steep, and during the winter you can ski, tube or toboggan.


Directions for a Distant View:

Curtis Island light view from shore

Contact Info:
Town of Camden

P.O. Box 1207
Camden, ME 04843


Lighthouse and Nature Boat Tours:

As this boat leaves out of Camden Harbor it will usually pass by Curtis Island Lighthouse as also part of narrated wildlife and historic tours.

Camden Harbor Cruises
In addition to eco and lobster hauling tours, they provide a 1-hour Lighthouse Lobster Tour from Camden, and a 3-hour Sunday Lighthouse Cruise aboard a classic wooden motor vessel, the Lively Lady. There is also a Grindle Point Lighthouse Excursion on Sunday afternoons, where visitors depart to Islesboro Island, and explore the lighthouse grounds, and adjoining Sailor's Museum.

16 Camden Public Landing,
Box 1315, Camden, ME 04843
Phone: (207) 236-6672



schooner windjammer sailing

Windjammer Schooner Cruises
Out Of Camden Harbor

Windjammer cruises offer many types of cruises. Cruises mentioned below are those authentic schooner vessels docked in picturesque Camden Harbor. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises, some may pass by Curtis Island Lighthouse as part of sailing charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, fishing tours and other types of excursions from Camden Harbor. Weather is also a major factor in New England, especially on sailing excursions, as it determines that day's sailing route.


Schooner Lewis R. French
Built in 1871, this is Maine's oldest active schooner offering 3, 4, and 6-day sailing vacations along Maine’s coast. They have specific lighthouse cruises where visitors can view between 15 and 25 lighthouses. These cruises include anchoring near several island lighthouses, and allowing guests to have the chance to hike to some of these beacons. Tickets to the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland are provided after each cruise.
P.O. Box 992, Camden ME 04843
Phone: (800) 469-4635


Schooner Angelique
Schooner Angelique offers lighthouse cruises in July and August, and has cruises that explore the Acadia region.
P.O. Box 736, Camden, Maine 04843-0736
Phone: (800) 282-9989


Maine Windjammer Cruises
Completely restored 19th century schooners Grace Bailey and Mercentile for weekly and weekend cruises along the Maine coast and Penobscot Bay.
P.O. Box 617 Camden, ME 04843
Phone: (207) 236-2938 or (800) 736-7981


Schooner Olad
The schooner Olad provides daily 2-hour, half day, full day sails, and sunset sails, along with various event sails.
P.O. Box 432 Camden, ME 04843
Phone: (207) 236-2323


Schooner Mary Day 
Tours include 4-day lighthouse cruises and has heat in every cabin.
10 Atlantic Ave, P.O. Box 798, Camden, ME 04843
Phone: (800) 992-2218


Schooner Surprise
This racing schooner offers two-hour windjammer cruises around Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay.
P.O. Box H, Camden, ME 04843
Phone: 207-236-4687


Schooner Appledore
This wooden 86-foot schooner cruises out of Camden into Penobscot Bay at least three times a day, seven days a week. Sails include wildlife, sunset, and local lighthouses.
3 Lily Pond Drive, Camden, ME 04843
Phone: (207) 236-8353



Scenic Flights

Penobscot Island Air
Chartering a variety of lighthouse viewing flights.
Knox County Regional Airport
Owls Head ME 04854
Phone: (207) 596-7500
Cellular: (207) 542-4944
Fax: (207) 596-6870



Books to Explore

Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England:
New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont

This 300-page book provides human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses of northern New England, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special trips. There is also a section that lists all tall ships and schooners in Maine for all kinds of sailing tours in the harbors and all along the coast.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions



book of the rise and demise of the largest sailing ships

Available in paperback, hardcover, and as an eBook for all devices.

my ebook on apple books

Look inside!

The Rise and Demise of the Largest Sailing Ships:
Stories of the Six and Seven-Masted Coal Schooners of New England

In the early 1900s, New England shipbuilders constructed the world’s largest sailing ships amid social and political reforms. These giants of sail were the ten original six-masted coal schooners and one colossal seven-masted vessel, built to carry massive quantities of coal and building supplies, and measured longer than a football field!

This book, balanced with plenty of color and vintage images, showcases the historical accounts that followed these mighty ships. These true stories include competitions, accidents, battling destructive storms, acts of heroism, and their final voyages.



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