Previous Light:
Pemaquid Point
Next Lighthouse:
Marshall Point

Monhegan Island Lighthouse

Monhegan Island light

Monhegan Island, Maine
Built in 1824


Atop a rocky hill on Monhegan Island, in Muscongus Bay. Grounds and lighthouse museum are open to the public. Access to the tower is through the museum at times during the summer months.

Latitude: 43° 45' 54" N
Longitude: 69° 18' 54" W


Historic Stories:

Before Europeans settled on Monhegan Island in 1619, making it the first permanent European settlement, it was long used by local Indians who named it Mohegan, which means "island of the sea”. By the early 1800s, trade in the area was increasing and in 1824 a lighthouse was built at one of Mohegan Island’s highest elevations.

In 1861, Keeper Joseph Humphrey had to fight in the Civil War, along with his two sons. His wife, Betsy, was left with her other eight children to tend the light.

early image Monhegan Island light

Monhegan Island Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

Joseph Humphrey died in battle in 1861 and Betsy became the official keeper. One of her two sons was killed in the War and the other returned home, disabled from his injuries. Betsy continued to tend the light as Keeper until 1880.



Keeper Paul Baptiste: Life on the Island in the 1950s

When keepers were staioned on the island, upon meeting the local islanders, they found the inhabitants were very resistant to any changes and were very particular in maintaining life on the island as it been for many years previously. 

One week, Keeper Paul Baptiste, who had moved up with his family in 1951 from Massachusetts, was given orders to paint the lighthouse lantern room red and the rails green. A few days after he completed painting the structure. An elderly islander came by and told him he couldn’t paint the lighthouse any color but traditional black. Paul said he was only following orders, but a few days later, Paul’s commander left a communication to paint the lantern and rails black.

Sometimes, the islanders would start to warm up to some changes. In the early 1950s, the entire island was using kerosene for illumination and there was no electricity. Keeper Paul Baptiste had a generator at the lighthouse, which was only used to pump water to the building. He asked for, and was granted permission to use the generator for electricity for the first floor of the keeper’s house. 

In 1952, Keeper Baptiste bought and installed the first television on the island. He then installed an antenna on top of the roof, which annoyed some of his local neighbors who were used to the scenery without any obstacles. Some of the locals asked him what was on his roof and he told them he had a television to see special shows. He became quite popular as many locals stopped in to see what shows were playing on the new "black box".

Note: For more amusing stories from Keeper Paul Baptiste about his life on the island, select the link "Island Lighthouse Keeper in 1950s" Blog at the top of the page to be directed to my Lighthouse Stories blog.

Monhegan Island lighthouse with surrounding buildings



The light was automated in 1959. The 1874 keeper's house was converted to a museum in 1968, focusing on the island's history and natural wildlife.



Places to Visit Nearby:

Monhegan Island is located 10 miles offshore from mid-coast Maine.

Monhegan Island harbor

Monhegan Island Harbor

It is a picturesque fishing community and summer haven for artists and vacationers.

The island itself is about 2 miles long by a mile wide with plenty of hiking trails inside the wooded areas and along the shoreline.

There are a number of boat cruises including the daily Monhegan Boat Line from Port Clyde, Hardy Boat Cruises from New Harbor near Boothbay Harbor, and Balmy Days Cruises out of Boothbay Harbor that bring passengers to and from the island.

The cliffs can rise up to 130 feet above sea level in places, and the highest point is the lighthouse location at 160 feet. Monhegan Island cliffs

Monhegan Island Cliffs
Rise 130 Above Sea Level

For naturalists, the Monhegan Island offers over 600 varieties of wildflowers and more than 200 species of birds to observe. You may also observe the harbor seals found on the Duck Rocks near Pebble Beach.

dock at Monhegan Island

Monhegan Island Dock

You can look at various artists’ galleries, enjoy fine cuisine in one of the few inns on the island, and enjoy unique walking and hiking along the dirt roads.

Thee only few vehicles on the island are used by the inns and hotels.

The hike around the island will take you to an old tugboat shipwreck then up along cliffs that reach about 130 feet above sea, and of course the lighthouse grounds. shipwrecked tugboat on Monhegan Island

Reaching the lighthouse and the Monhegan Museum from the island is a moderate hilly walk. It's a favorite place for artists to paint or photograph this iconic location.

The museum is open to the public and sometimes provides tours inside the lighthouse tower during the summer months. rowboat by Monhegan Island light

By the way, the boat set next to the lighthouse was put there by artists some years ago and never used by keepers, as the lighthouse is located on the highest elevation.

You'll find Monhegan Island seemingly trapped in a time capsule, as most of it is undeveloped.

rock scultures on Monhegan Island You'll also notice unique little “rock towers” and little “fairy houses” built of all natural materials scattered around the island.



Contact Info:
Monhegan Museum
1 Lighthouse Hill
Monhegan, ME 04852
Phone: 207-596-7003


artist painting by Monhegan Island Light and Museum

Artist Painting by Monhegan Island
Lighthouse and Museum


Directions to Boat Landing in Port Clyde

From the Maine Turnpike Heading North:

From the Maine Turnpike Heading South:


Local Boat Tours and Ferries

Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below offer many types of cruises. All boats below offer specific lighthouse cruises. The Monhegan Boat line provides multiple daily trips as a ferry to Monhegan Island during the summer months.


Balmy Days Cruises
Offers special lighthouse tours.
Pier 8
42 Commercial St.
Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538
(207) 633-2284 or
(800) 298-2284



Hardy Boat Cruises
Special lighthouse cruises available.
PO Box 326
New harbor, Maine 04554
(207) 677-2026




Monhegan Boat Line
Ferry leaves out of Port Clyde to Monhegan Island daily during the summer months. Also has special lighthouse tours.
P.O. Box 238
Port Clyde, Maine 04855
Tel: (207) 372-8848
Fax: (207) 372-8547




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. You'll find many boat tours that will take you out to the island.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions




You can order these books through many pages on this website, and I'll be happy to personally sign and ship them to you anywhere inside the United States. You can also order from the publisher, Schiffer Books, who can ship anywhere globally.



Price is lower at $24.95 if purchased here. Enjoy!


Table of Contents

Over 50 famous stories with lots of details in my book New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues, and Other Tales

One of my favorite personal stories involves the only inteview I have ever done with one of the last lighthouse keepers of Monhegan Island Lighthouse, Paul Baptiste, who came to the island with his family in the 1950s from Bakers Island Lighthouse in Boston Harbor in Massachusetts, and his special relationship with the local islanders.

The book contains, along with my photographs, paintings by six famous artists for the Coast Guard, and vintage images from the Coast Guard, museums, and special collectors.