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Hendricks Head Lighthouse

Hendricks Head lighthouse at dusk

Southport, Maine
Built in 1829


Location:

About 10 miles south of Boothbay Harbor off Route 27, situated on the mouth of the Sheepscot River in Cozy Harbor on Southport Island. Private residence.

Latitude: 43° 49' 22" N
Longitude: 69° 41' 23" W

 

Historic Stories:

Hendricks Head Lighthouse was erected on the western side of Southport Island in 1829 to guide vessels up the Sheepscot River to the shipbuilding center at Wiscasset Harbor, it was then rebuilt in 1875.

Jaruel Marr was appointed keeper of the Hendricks Head Lighthouse in 1866 as compensation in part for injuries he sustained while fighting in the Civil War. This occurred quite often during this time period as a reward for services during the Civil War. During the conflict, he was wounded and incarcerated in a Confederate prison in Virginia, where he was nursed back to health by a fellow-prisoner and Union Army doctor named Wolcott. To honor the doctor, Jaruel and his wife named their next child Wolcott. Wolcott also became keeper at Cape Elizabeth and the Cuckolds Lighthouse, before returning to be keeper at Hendricks Head after his father’s retirement. Coincidentally, Wolcott Marr was born, married, and passed away in the same room at Hendricks Head.

 

Keeper's Dog Shep Rescues Stranded Couple

Charles Knight became keeper after Wolcott passed away in 1912. On a stormy night in 1932, their dog Shep kept barking as if something was wrong. The keeper let the dog out and watched it run to the shoreline as it was constantly barking.

Feeling something was wrong he rang the fog bell to sound an alarm. early Henricks Head light with fog bell tower

Early Hendricks Head Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

Two powerboats nearby heard the alarm and looked over the waters for anyone in distress. They found a couple that were adrift in a rowboat as they had lost their oars heading out to the open sea. The couple was rescued and a few months later Shep was awarded a bronze medal by the Anti-Vivisection Society of New York for his heroic barking.

Hendricks Head light on a sunny day

 

Built in 1829 and then rebuilt in 1875. Hendricks Head is probably best known more for its two sensational stories that occurred there, a famous rescue of a baby girl and a lady ghost that is seen at dusk near the shore by the beacon.

 

Miracle Rescue of Baby Girl

The first incident, which involves a famous rescue of an infant, occurred around 1875, during a fierce March Gale, when Keeper Jarul Marr saw a vessel run aground about a half mile from the lighthouse. Unable to launch his dory in the fifteen-foot seas, he and his wife managed to light a bonfire to signal the vessel. As he was feeding the fire he noticed a large bundle floating in the waves. When he waded in to retrieve it, he found there were two feather beds tied together. When he ripped them apart he found a box with a crying baby girl. After rushing the infant to the house he went back out to try and signal to the boat but it was too late. The seas had smashed the vessel to pieces with no survivors. 

The baby girl, later named Seaborn, was believed to have been later adopted by a doctor and his wife who were summer residents living nearby. This story has been disputed but ancestors of the keeper believe it is actually true.

hendricks head light in fog

 

Lady Ghost of the Dusk

The second incident involves an affluent woman stranger. In the early 1900's, keeper Charles Knight, while heading to the Post Office, noticed a dignified woman walking in the opposite direction. In a small town where everyone knows one another, he found this quite odd for a stranger to be walking alone in the dark. The postmaster also had seen the woman. The next day her body, weighted down with a flatiron, was found washed ashore at Hendricks Head.

No one ever found out who she was, but she was given a decent burial in Southport. Some people have claimed to have seen her ghostly figure in the winter months walking the deserted beach where she had believably committed suicide. She is known as the "Lady Ghost of the Dusk" as she has been spotted as the sun sets.

Note: For more explicit details on the stories of the miracle baby rescue and the lady ghost mentioned above, select the appropriate links at the top of the page to be directed to my section of lighthouse stories.

sunset by Hendricks Head light

 

A fierce storm on January 9, 1978, demolished the boathouse and also destroyed the walkway that had connected the lighthouse to the fog bell tower.

In 1991, the present owners, bought the lighthouse property, and have restored all of the structures to their original condition for tourists to enjoy from a short distance away.

 

 

Places to Visit Nearby:

Hendricks Head Lighthouse can easily be viewed for good photos as you park your car on the side street by a small beach just before the lighthouse.

beach by Hendricks Head light

The beach is open to the public if you can find adequate parking there.

There is a little hiking trail through the woods on the right side just before you come to the small beach. The Hendricks Hill museum near the Southport post office provides lots of history in the area, and, if you look carefully above the fire station you'll find a replica of the lighthouse lantern room.

For those who are patient, Hendricks Head lighthouse may also provide a great backdrop for some of the most dramtic sunsets of the Maine coast. dramtic sunset by Hendricks Head lighthouse

For those who enjoy hiking, there are 20 wildlife preserves all around the Boothbay region peninsula. These encompass more than 30 miles of trails that include woodlands, wetlands, salt marshes, islands, feeding areas for migratory birds and butterflies, and historical and archaeological sites. Ovens Mouth is one such area that guides visitors around an estuary abundant with wildlife.

If you are looking for automobiles that encompass all historical eras from horseless carriages, to steam powered vehicles, to the streamlined cars of the 1930's, and an operating live steam train, visit the Boothbay Railway Village.

Boothbay Harbor was originally a fishing and shipbuilding village, and it still operates the same way today. Many tours out of Boothbay Harbor pass by the lighthouse. You'll find plenty of boat cruises leaving out of the harbor for fishing, whale watching, and lighthouse tours covering the Kennebec River area and around the Boothbay peninsula leaving out of Boothbay Harbor.

The Boothbay Harbor region offers plenty of curio and specialty stores, quaint inlet harbors, with small coastal villages, like Southport, with plenty of local B&B’s to rest in.

If you have your own boat, there are plenty of places to dock, some by shoreline restaurants. docked boats at boothbay

 

Driving Directions

 

Local Boat Tours

Boat cruises out of Boothbay Harbor and the Kennebec River may offer many types of cruises that pass by Hendricks Head Lighthouse. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises, some will pass by specific lighthouses as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, fishing tours, and other types of excursions.  Enjoy!

 

Maine Maritime Museum
Frequent lighthouse tours along the Kennebec River and Boothbay Harbor
243 Washington Street
Bath, ME 04530
Phone: (207) 443-1316
Fax: (207) 443-1665

 

Cap'n Fish's Whale Watch and Scenic Nature Cruises
Includes lighthouses along the Kennebec River and Boothbay Harbor.
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
(207)-633-3244
(207)-633-2626
Or toll free 1-800-636-3244

 

River Run Tours
Chartered pontoon boat for lighthouse excursions.
River Run Tours, Inc.
28 Walnut Point
Woolwich, Maine 04578
(207) 504-BOAT(2628)

 

 

New Book Just Published Summer 2023!

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

book of the rise and demise of the largest sailing ships

To order a signed paperback copy:

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

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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.

Click for larger video here.

 

 

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, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special vacation.

In the book, you'll find accounts of the mysterious woman whose death prompted sightings afterwards as the "Lady Ghost of the Dusk", and of the famous miracle baby rescue. There is a section in the book on haunted lighthouses too.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions

 

 

 

 

New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues & Other Tales

This image-rich book contains over 50 stories of famous shipwrecks and rescues around New England lighthouses, and also tales of hauntings, including more details on the stories of the "Lady Ghost" haunting. You'll find more details on the famous miracle baby rescue as well.

You'll find this book and my lighthouse tourism books published by Schiffer Books, or they can be found in many fine bookstores like Barnes and Noble.

 

 

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