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West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

west quoddy head light

823 Quoddy Head Road, Lubec, Maine
Built in 1808


Location:

Overlooking Quoddy Narrows near the Bay of Fundy at Quoddy Head State Park, off Route 189 from Route 1.

Latitude: 44° 48' 55" N
Longitude: 66° 57' 04" W

 

Historic Stories:

Ironically West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, situated on forty foot high cliffs, overlooking Quoddy Narrows near the Bay of Fundy, stands on the easternmost point of the United States, although it is west of East Quoddy Head Light (also referred to as Head Harbor Light) located a few miles away on Campobello Island, in Canada. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in Maine. In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson was convinced of the need for a lighthouse and West Quoddy Head was completed in 1808 with Thomas Dexter as its first keeper.

To warn ships of the frequent fog banks that were created from the Bay of Fundy, a 500-pound fog bell was installed at the station in 1820. It was one of the nation’s first fog bells. With mariners having problems hearing the bell far enough away from the rocks, the station tried a high-pitched bell, then a 1,500-pound deeper sounding bell, and then a 14-foot triangular steel bar. None were proved satisfactory. Today West Quoddy Head has a powerful foghorn activated by a robotic fog-sensing device.

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse was rebuilt in 1831 due to its original poor construction, then in 1857 the tower was completely reconstructed and, as it stands today, rises 85-feet above the water. Its distinctive red-and-white stripes offer daytime mariners better visibility, especially in winter months.

Vintage Image West Quoddy head Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

On a thick foggy day on September 22, 1915, the three-masted schooner Lanie Cobb was heading to Calais, Maine, from New York with a cargo of coal when it ran aground on the ledges near the lighthouse and broke in two. The crewmembers were immediately rescued without any fatalities.

The keepers’ children had a 2-mile walk to school in Lubec. In the 1920’s, the children of Keeper Marston found lumber washed ashore and built a little play hut in the woods for local children to gather. The structure was still standing into the 1990’s.

The lighthouse automated in 1988 with Malcolm Rouse as its last Keeper. It recently had restoration work done completed in 2008.

 

New England Lighthouses

 

Places to Visit Nearby:

Lubec is located on the banks of the St. Croix River near the United States/Canada border. This former shipbuilding and sardine-packing town is the first town in the U.S. to see the sunrise. It has no shopping malls, fast food restaurants, of stoplights, only rugged natural beauty that hasn’t changed. This is truly a place to disconnect and enjoy the outdoors. The community consists of artists, a few specialty shops, and fishermen.

The views at West Quoddy Head lighthouse are quite stunning with Canada’s Grand Manan Island in front of you as you stand over cliffs to the sea. The tower is closed, but visitors are welcome to enjoy the lighthouse grounds and explore the Visitor Center and Museum run by the West Quoddy Head Light Keepers' Association. Take a walk along the rocky beach below.  Some parts of the park have patches of actual arctic tundra, which you would find much further up north. In early summer purple lupine flowers are everywhere and biking is a great way to go exploring and take in this spectacular area. There are also whale watching, deep sea fishing, and lighthouse tours out of Lubec as well.

Take some time and hike through the Quoddy State Park's miles of nature trails, over scenic coastal terrain. Many of these trails are used on what is known as the Quoddy Loop Trail System, which includes trails across the border onto Campobello Island in Canada. There are plenty of historic and local tours available within the Lubec area and over the border onto Campobello Island in Canada. Tours of Lubec and Cobstock provide tours of historic aspects of Lubec and the area, natural history tours, tours of the Tide Mill Organic Farm in operation since 1765, and tours of the intertidal shore, and West Quoddy Head Light. For island hopping, take the Eastport Ferry between Eastport on Moose Island and Lubec. The island is part of the scenic Shackford Head State Park

If you have the time, cross the border into Canada and explore Roosevelt Park on Campobello Island. There you'll find, Mulholland Point Lighthouse with plenty of walking trails. Then, following a right after Roosevelt's cottage (15 Miles), you'll enjoy the stunning views of Head Harbor (East Quoddy Head) Lighthouse with its giant red cross painted on its tower. If you time it right, at low tide you can walk over to the lighthouse, but be wary that when the tide comes in, get off the island quickly as it has some of the fastest accumulation of water and highest tides within a short period of time. Its high tides can run as high as 50 feet.

You can enjoy all kinds of relaxing activities on Grand Manan Island in Canada as well. There are also 9 more lighthouses around this island and surrounding islands.

 

 

Directions:

 

Contact Info:
West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association
PO Box 378
Lubec, ME 04652
Phone: (207) 733-2180
Email: info@westquoddy.com


Local Boat Tours

Cruises mentioned below offer many types of cruises. Both pass by West Quoddy Head Lighthouse during lighthouse tours, and may pass by the light as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, whale watching adventures, fishing tours, and other types of excursions.

 

Bay Cruises at the Wharf
Own the Inn at the Waterfront, and offer whale watching and lighthouse tours.
69 Johnson St
Lubec, Maine 04652
(207) 733-4400 or (239) 571-0208 (cell)
Email: TheInnonTheWharf@aol.com

 

Downeast Charter Boat Tours
Offers whale watching on a 25' Northern Bay lobster boat and may pass by the Lubec lighthouses.
31 Johnson Street Lubec, ME 04652
(207) 733-2009

 

 

 

My 300-page book (with over 360 images), Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, published by Schiffer Publishing, provides human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses from these northern states, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special vacation.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and attractions

 

 

 

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