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Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse

Saddleback Ledge lighthouse

Vinalhaven, Maine
Built in 1839


Saddelback Ledge Light is about 3 miles southeast of Vinalhaven Island, in the Isle au Haut Bay.

Latitude: 44° 00' 54" N
Longitude: 68° 43' 36" W


Historic Stories:

Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse is situated on a dangerous rocky ledge halfway between Vinalhaven Island and Isle Au Haut.

In 1836, when the ship, Royal Tar, which was carrying a cargo of circus performers and animals, caught fire and sank near the ledge, it spawned public outcry and petitions for a lighthouse to be built on the ledge three years later.

Many lighthouse keepers have described Saddleback Lighthouse as one of the most remote and barren locations of all Maine’s lighthouses, with Maine’s stormy waves constantly washing over the ledge.

The first keeper was Watson Hopkins who had nine family members living inside the second floor of the tower as the keepers cramped quarters, with no separate dwelling.

early image of Saddleback Ledge lighthouse

Vintage Image with Bell Tower
Courtesy US Coast Guard

In 1843, his wife Abigail gave birth to a baby girl at the station and needed transfer to the mainland. On the way to the mainland, the baby was dropped briefly into the icy water, but was quickly pulled out before any serious harm came to her.

Because the ledge was known to be one of the toughest locations to land a boat, in 1885, a derrick with a swinging arm and attached chair was added to help in getting keepers and visitors on and off the difficult rock island for many years.

Saddleback ledge light tower There have also been occasions where keepers have recorded strange accounts of multitudes of dead birds piled up on the tiny ledge from crashing into the lighthouse tower.

Saddleback Ledge Light was automated in 1954 and the keeper's dwelling was blown up as a Green Beret military exercise in 1960 to reduce maintenance costs. The tower still remains to guide mariners.



Places to Visit Nearby:

The large island of Vinalhaven is predominantly a fishing community that offers plenty of small beaches to relax at and clear spring fed Booth’s and Lawson’s Quarries to swim in. There are plenty of places to hike and picnic along Lane’s Island Preserve, along with various Vinalhaven town parks like Armbrust Hill, Grimes Park, Narrows Park, Isle-Au-Haut Mountain, Tip Toe Mountain, and Arey’s Neck Woods. You can also explore Browns Head Lighthouse on the island.


Contact Info:
Vinalhaven Historical Society

P.O. Box 339
41 High St.
Vinalhaven, ME 04863
Phone: (207) 863-4410


Local Boat Tours

Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse is only accessible by boat and is not open to the public. Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below may offer many types of cruises. Some cruises will pass by Saddelback Ledge Lighthouse on narrated wildlife and historic tours, during sailing adventures, fishing tours, and other types of excursions. Weather is also a major factor in New England, especially on sailing excursions.

Schooner Mary Day
Windjammer sailing that included 4 and 6-day lighthouse cruises.
P.O. Box 798, Camden, Maine 04843
Phone: (800) 992-2218


Schooner Angelique
Schooner Angelique offers lighthouse and other windjammer tours in the area.
P.O. Box 736
Camden, Maine 04843-0736
Phone: (800) 282-9989


Isle au Haut Boat Company
Daily mail boat trips to the island of Isle au Haut in the summer season.

They offer a special annual 4-5 hour cruise during Maine's lighthouse weekend in September to see up to six lighthouses on Saturday: Isle au Haut Light, Mark Island Light (also known as  Deer Isle Thorofare), Goose Rocks Light, Brown's Head Light, Heron Neck Light, and if weather permits, Saddleback Ledge.

Isle au Haut Boat Services
P.O. Box 709
Stonington, ME 04681
Tel. (207) 367-5193


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


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 trips.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions




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