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DETOUR- Maine's Only Inland Lighthouse:
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This Region:
Rockland to Camden

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

Rockland Breakwater lighthouse

Rockland, Maine
Built in 1888


Marking the entrance to Rockland Harbor, of Samoset Drive from Route 1. You can walk the nearly mile long jetty to explore around the lighthouse.

Latitude: 44° 06' 15" N
Longitude: 69° 04' 39" W


Historic Stories:

The lighthouse was built in 1888 to accommodate the heavy lime trade coming in and out of Rockland Harbor, and with other industries like fishing, granite quarrying, steamship transportation and ice harvesting, Rockland Harbor was becoming one of the busiest places on the Maine coast.

In 1844, the ship Maine sailed out of Rockland Harbor with its load of lime. It never returned. However, three years later found on a vessel that had come into the harbor were a mahogany chest, ship's atlas, and navigation book belonging to the Maine. According to the Captain of the vessel, three Portuguese Sailors had left these items behind when they had jumped ship in Vera Cruz. No trace of the ship Maine or her crew was ever found.

While creating the breakwater between 1881 and 1899, workers would erect a light at the end of each section of the breakwater they had finished. The final lighthouse tower attached to the keeper's quarters was constructed at the end of the breakwater.

This had the beacon stationed 7/8 of a mile out into the harbor. early Rockland Breakwater light

Early Rockland Breakwater Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

In 1902 Rockland Harbor Light was rebuilt.


The Flying Santa

One Christmas morning in 1929, a local pilot, Captain William Wincapaw, decided to take flight and drop some gifts to some of the keepers in the Rockland and Penobscot Bay area to show his appreciation during the lonely holiday season. 

The outpouring of thanks afterwards of the gentle gesture inspired him to make the venture each year, increasing his range to add additional lighthouses on each trip. He became known as the first "Flying Santa", and got his family involved as well. 

Soon, lighthouse historian Edward Rowe Snow would join in the efforts and took over the duties as Flying Santa when Wincapaw died unexpecxtedly of a heart attack.

Today the tradition of the Flying Santas continues with the Coast Guard using helicoptors to deliver gifts to Coast Guard families and to honor the previous lighthouse keepers. 

The organization Friends of Flying Santa is directly involved with this annual tradition and keeps the public informed about lighthouse preservation efforts, and of events provided to raise funds to purchase gifts for children of Coast Guard familes, in appreciation of those who serve. 

Note: For more detailed information about Captain Wincapaw's story and Edward Rowe Snow as the Flying Santas, select the link "Flying Santa" Blog at the top of the page.

friends of flying santa logo



In 1951, one former Coast Guardsman who was stationed at the lighthouse caught a 27-pound lobster off the breakwater.

The lighthouse was automated in 1965. Restoration efforts started in 1998 and most was completed in 2003.

schooner passes by Rockland Breakwater lighthouse



Places to Visit Nearby:

There is a small park near the beginning of the breakwater, the Marie H. Reed Breakwater Park. The lighthouse is also part of the 5.5-mile Rockland Harbor Trail that also takes hikers through the city and some of its open spaces.

Take a walk along the unique 7/8-mile breakwater out to the lighthouse. breakwater leads to Rockland Breakwater light

You can join many who fish off the breakwater during high tide.

Tour boats and schooners from Rockland, Camden, and Rockport are available to take you around the lighthouses and nearby islands.

saiboat passes by Rockland Breakwater lighthouse n a cloudy day Any of these boats entering or leaving Rockland Harbor will pass by the lighthouse.

The ferries from Rockland to Vinalhaven, and North Haven pass by the lighthouse. For those who love sailing, A Morning in Maine provides daily two-hour nature and historic public sails aboard a 55-foot ketch, and there are sunset sails, Monroe Island, Blues Festival, and Science Under event sails as well. Bufflehead Sailing Charters provides between one and eight hour cruises aboard a small 32-foot wooden gaff sloop, including lobster bakes and night sails.

In Rockland, visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum and observe Fresnel lenses and artifacts from nearby lighthouses. Fresnel lenses at the Maine Lighthouse Museum

The museum includes the largest first order lens, visitors can hear foghorns and explore all kinds of lighthouse memorabilia (open early June to October).

Tour the Farnsworth Art Museum. Home to over twenty galleries, "Arts in Rockland" promotes, each first Friday of the month, an “art walk” to explore these galleries. 

Rockland is a major music destination for may artists, especially those who love the blues. Each year in July, Rockland hosts the North Atlantic Blues Festival, and throughout the year top blues acts visit the Strand Theater, which also has all kinds of other musical, dance, and theater acts during the year.

schooner passes by breakwater and lighthouse

Schooner Passes by Breakwater
and Lighthouse




Contact Info:
Friends of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
P.O. Box 741
Rockland, Maine 04841
(207) 542-7574


schooner windjammer sailing


Local Boat Tours and Windjammer Cruises

Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below may offer many types of cruises. They pass by Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse while entering and leaving Rockland Harbor. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises that provide close views of Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, some will pass by the lighthouse as part of sailing charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, fishing tours, and other types of excursions. Weather is also a major factor in New England, especially on sailing excursions, so schooner windjammer cruises are dependent on sailing conditions that determine the route.


Maine State Ferry Service
Ferry to Matinicus Island, Vinalhaven, and Northhaven. Passes by Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse while entering and leaving Rockland Harbor.
P.O. Box 645
517A Main Street
Rockland, Maine 04841-0645
Phone: (207) 596-2202

Ferry from Lincolnville to Islesboro
P.O. Box 214
Lincolnville, Maine 04849-0214
Phone: (207) 789-5611


Camden Harbor Cruises
Provides 1-hour Lighthouse Lobster Tour from Camden, and a 3-hour Sunday Lighthouse Cruise aboard a classic wooden motor vessel, the Lively Lady.

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

Lighthouses: Curtis Island, Indian Island, Owls Head, Browns Head, Rockland Breakwater


Windjammer Cruises Out of Rockand

Weather is a major factor in New England, so schooner windjammer cruises are dependent on sailing conditions that determine their route or that day, and may not pass by selected lighthouses, but the excitement and adventure they provide is well worth the trip. Many of these sail out of or come into Rockland Harbor and pass by Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. Windjammers that leave out of Rockland are listed below.

Schooner Heritage
The 145-foot Heritage offers 3-day to 6-day sails without a specific itinerary, but always passes by lighthouses and its captains are maritime historians.
P.O. Box 482, 5 Achorn Street, Rockland, ME 04841
Phone: (207) 594-8007 or (800) 648-4544


Schooner Grace Bailey
This completely restored 19th century schooner measures 123 feet in overall length. Three to six-day sails for various events, including participating in schooner races or regattas, lots of music, and sometimes island stopovers.

P.O. Box 1401, Rockland, ME 04841
Phone: (207) 691-9521


Schooner J. & E. Riggin
Built in 1927, this 120-foot two-masted schooner has special 3 and 4 day “Lighthouses and Lobsters” cruises.
136 Holmes Street, Rockland, ME 04841
Phone: (800) 869-0604


Schooner American Eagle
Sails on cruises of varying lengths, from two to nine days which include lighthouses and wildlife as part of every trip.
P.O. Box 482, 11 Front Street, Rockland, ME 04841
Phone: (207) 594-8007 or (800) 648-4544


Schooner Stephen Taber and Schooner Bowditch
Classic 140-year old schooner sails on one and multiple day cruises which include a “Lighthouse and Photography Cruise” featuring photography instruction with a local artist.  
Windjammer Wharf
P.O. Box 1050, Rockland, ME 04841
Phone: (207) 594-4723 or (800) 999-7352


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

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

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 measured longer than a football field!

This self-published 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.



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

This lighthouse tourism book showcases human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses of the northern states of New England, along with the coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special vacations. You'll find over 360 images inside as well.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions

There is a section for windjammer cruises and sailing tours to help you decide on taking one of these adventures. You'll also find a detailed story about the Flying Santa(s) who brought gifts to keepers and their families, which started in this region.



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