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Whitehead Lighthouse

Whitehead lighthouse

St. George, Maine
Built in 1804



Southwestern entrance to Muscle Ridge Channel in Penobscot Bay, on Whitehead Island, in Maine's Midcoast Region. Overnight stays may be allowed.

Latitude: 43° 58' 47" N
Longitude: 69° 07' 30" W


Historic Stories:

Whitehead Lighthouse was built in 1804 due to the increasing amount of ships that were carrying granite cargo and other exports from local harbors through Muscle Ridge Channel in Penobscot Bay. The route involved navigating between the mainland and a series of dangerous reefs, ledges and islands in the area. Whitehead Island’s location makes it one of the foggiest spots on the coast, with about a quarter of the days spent in fog during any given year.

The first Keeper, Ellis Dolph, was dismissed when he was found to be selling oil he acquired from the government's lighthouse supply to the locals around Thomaston.

Between residents at the life saving station and the keepers who tended the lighthouse, there were plenty of children on the island. Funds were appropriated to establish a tiny school district with a one-room schoolhouse and teacher.

Isaac Grant became keeper in 1875. His wife was Abbie Burgess Grant, who had gained fame as the teenage heroine of Matinicus Rock Lighthouse.

In 1881, Isaac Grant rescued two men whose schooner had capsized near Whitehead Island and later was awarded a silver medal for his heroism. vintage image of Whitehead lighthouse
Vintage Image
Courtesy of US Coast Guard

Because of its foggy location, huge amounts of coal were needed to operate the steam powered fog whistles. A famous donkey named "Jack" was acquired from the mainland by Keeper Long around 1885. It was later adopted by Abbie Burgess Grant and her husband Keeper Issac Grant (Abbie Burgess was the famous teenage hero of Matinicus Light, see blog link above). It was then adopted by Keeper Frank Jellison. In addition to providing nearly 19 years of dedicated service to his caretakers, and providing the means of delivering coal for the fog whistles to the constant traffic of ships, Jack enjoyed exploring the island, became quite a local tourist attraction, and was a frequent site by the children at the one-room schoolhouse. At times being invited in through the open door by one of the students.

A more recent rescue occurred on a stormy December morning in 1980, when a lobster boat with two crew members started taking in water nearby. Coast Guard Keeper Ken D. Johnson was able to take out his small boat in ten-foot seas and retrieve the two men back to the shore safely.

The light was automated in 1982, converted to solar power in 2001, and restoration of the keeper's house was completed in 2008.



Places to Visit:

Port Clyde, Thomaston, and Tenants Harbor, along with their neighboring villages and towns are still predominantly fishing villages, where you’ll also find many artists galleries, beautiful sunsets overlooking their harbors, and where visitors will find the true Maine spirit. Over twenty-five artists in the town of St. George hold an annual Open Studio Tour each summer. Thomaston is an old seaport that is noted for its antique architecture.

There are adult educational programs offered at the light station in the summer months by the Whitehead Light Station Organization.

The station is also available for weekly vacation rentals during the summer months. water view of Whitehead lighthouse

There is also the annual Mid Coast Maine Lighthouse Challenge usually in late June, put on by the American Lighthouse Foundation (headquarters at Owl’s Head keeper’s house), offering a chance to view up to seven lighthouses along the coast and providing special cruises out of Port Clyde.

Whitehead lighthouse as dusk is approaching


Contact Info:
Whitehead Light Station Organization
P.O. Box 242
Brunswick, Maine 04011
Phone: (207) 729 7714 or (207) 465 3031


Local Boat Tour

Monhegan Boat Line
Ferry leaves out of Port Clyde to Monhegan Island. Provides a view of Whitehead Lighthouse as part of its annual Mid Coast Maine Lighthouse Challenge tour.
P.O. Box 238
Port Clyde, Maine 04855
Phone: (207) 372-8848


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 all of northern New England's beacons, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions





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