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Owl's Head Lighthouse

owls head light

Owl’s Head, Maine
Built in 1826



Location:

Marking the entrance to Rockland Harbor from Lighthouse Road off Route 73. The lighthouse grounds are open to the public. Visitors can also climb the stairway to the lighthouse atop the rocky cliff hill. The keeper's house is headquarters of the American Lighthouse Foundation.

Latitude: 44° 05' 33" N
Longitude: 69° 02' 39" W

 

Historic Stories:

In early times the name of the Owl's head came from the local Indians. Some mariner's claim they can make out the figure.


Vintage Image
Courtesy US Coast Guard

The growing trade of lime mined in Rockland and nearby Thomaston led to the need for Owl's Head lighthouse at the entrance to Rockland Harbor.

Built in 1826, authorized by President John Quincy Adams, with Isaac Sterns as its first Keeper, it has been the site of many shipwrecks. Its tower, though only 20 feet tall is situated over a high cliff making it over 100 feet above water.

One of the most bizarre of rescues occurred during the blizzard of December 22, 1850 when a schooner with three aboard became wedged against two ledges near Owl's head. The deckhand barely made it ashore at dawn to get help and was rescued by Keeper Henry Achorn. Achorn organized a rescue party and found a man and woman completely encased in ice in a lover's embrace. The pair were meticulously cut out of the ice and were brought back to the keeper's dwelling although everyone feared they had frozen to death. They attempted to thaw out the pair and miraculously after a number of hours the couple regained consciousness and survived to be married later in June. The story has often been referred to as the "rescue of the frozen lovers."

In the 1930's, Keeper Augustus Hamer had a special dog named Spot who would ring the fog bell by tugging on the rope to the bell with its teeth every time it heard a ships whistle. When the Captain of the boat returned the fog signal, Spot happily would run down to the water and bark until the boat was out of earshot.

One wintry stormy night Spot heard the whistle of the lost Matinicus mail boat, which was caught in the storm trying to get home. Lunging over the snowdrifts Spot couldn't find the rope so he barked constantly until the Captain was finally able to send the signal back that he had heard the dog. Spot is credited with saving the Captain that night and is buried near the fog bell he loved.

 

New England Lighthouses

 

Places to Visit Nearby:

The lighthouse is located within Owls Head Light State Park. It can be viewed from Lighthouse Road off Route 73. This lighthouse is situated atop of spectacular cliffs with wonderful views of Rockland Harbor and the coastline. You can enjoy picnicking at Lighthouse Park and walk along some of the trails along the cliffs and shoreline. Wear good tread sneakers or boots as this area can be quite slippery.

You'll also find that the keeper's house is now headquarters for the American Lighthouse Foundation, and they provide tours at times.

The Owls Head Transportation Museum, which exhibits antique autos and planes, is nearby off Route 73.

You can also explore works of national and local artists at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. Its Wyeth Center features local works of Andrew, N.C. and Jamie Wyeth, whose family members own Tenants Harbor Lighthouse.

The lighthouse can be viewed by water from the Rockland – Vinalhaven ferry, or from various excursion boats leaving Rockland Harbor. Penobscot Island Air offers aerial tours out of Owl’s Head village.

In Rockland, visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum (formally the Shore Village Museum), one of the most famous lighthouse museums in the world. This museum contains one of the largest collections of Fresnel lenses in the country.

For those who want the true Maine flavor, there is the annual Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland with the world’s largest lobster pot, cooking tens of thousands of pounds of lobster around the first week of August.

 

Directions:

Contact Info:
Owls Head Light State Park
Owls Head, Maine 04854
Phone: (207) 941-4014

Friends of Rockland Harbor Lights
P.O. Box 741
Rockland, ME 04841
Tel. (207) 594-4174

On the Web:
www.rocklandharborlights.org

United States Coast Guard
54 Tillson Avenue
Rockland, Maine
(207) 596-6666

 

Local Boat Tours and Windjammer Cruises

this region of the Penobscot has some of the best sailing conditions and is very popular for boaters and sailing vessels alike. Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below offer many types of cruises. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises, some may pass by Owl's Head Lighthouse during sailing charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, while ferrying passengers, fishing tours and other types of excursions. Weather is also 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. Contact info is provided to help you plan your special trips ahead of time. Enjoy!

 

Maine State Ferry Service
Ferry to Matinicus Island, Vinalhaven, and Northhaven. Ferry passes by the lighthouse out of Rockland Harbor.
P.O. Box 645
517A Main Street
Rockland, Maine 04841-0645
Phone:. (207) 596-2202
1-800-491-4883

 

 

 

Captain Jack’s Lobster Tours
Provides close up views of Owl’s Head and Rockland Harbor Breakwater lighthouses on its lobstering tours.

1 Park Drive, Rockland ME 04841
Phone: (207) 542-6852

 

 

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

 

 

 

Wndjammer Sailing Out of Rockland

Weather is always a major factor in New England, as schooner windjammer cruises are dependent on sailing conditions that determine their daily route. 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 Victory Chimes
This is the only original three-masted schooner and has special 3 and 4-day sails including the Lighthouse Parade, Maine Humor, and Irish Music cruises.
P.O. Box 1401, Rockland, ME 04841
Phone: (800) 745-5651

 

Schooner Isaac H. Evans
This 99-foot schooner provides themed cruises like the week-long Old Salts and Maine Lighthouses Cruise. Designated as a National Historic Landmark.
P.O. Box 791, Rockland, ME 04841
Phone: (877) 238-1325

 

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
 info@penobscotislandair.net

 

 

 

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. You'll also find a special section for listings of windjammer sailing cruises in the region.

In the book, you'll also find more in-depth accounts of the stories mentioned above involving the rescue of the "Frozen Lovers" at Owl's Head Lighthouse, and the keeper's dog who rescues the Monhegan Mailboat during a force winter storm, and yes the keeper building at the lighthouse is haunted. There is a special haunted lighthouses section to see the story.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and attractions

 

 

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