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Halfway Rock Lighthouse

Halfway Rock lighthouse

Harpswell, Maine
Built in 1871


In Casco Bay outside of Portland, a few miles offshore from Bailey Island. Best viewed by boat.

Latitude: 43° 39' 21" N
Longitude: 70° 02' 12" W


Historic Stories:

Halfway Rock sits on a rocky ledge about ten miles out into Casco Bay. Construction of the tower in 1871 was very similar to Massachusetts' Minot's Ledge Light, with massive granite blocks being cut out at specific angles to be dovetailed precisely together.

Keepers had constant issues with the lighthouse in its cramped quarters so many miles out in the ocean, Reaching the mainland for supplies required an 11-mile row to Portland, often made difficult or impossible by rough seas or ice. Eventually, a buoy tender vessel was set up by the Coast Guard out of South Portland to deliver supplies each week to minimize the risk of the light keepers.

Getting on and off the rocky wave swept ledge was always dangerous with many stories of boats flipping over in the seas. aerial view of Halfway Rock lighthouse

Early Halfway Rock Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

George A. Toothaker, from nearby Harpwsell, Maine, spent over 12 years at Halfway Rock as an assistant keeper and principal keeper between 1872 and 1885. He felt the isolation bothered him mentally, and he wrote that others who worked with him at the beacon were also affected physically and mentally.

Keepers had to get creative to keep themselves busy. One group created a chart of daily fly killings. One keeper reported to the local newspaper that he picked up a basketball that had washed ashore and counted 2,448 pimples on it in one day.

Arthur S. Strout, of the famous Strout family of Maine lighthouse keepers, spent 17 years at Halfway Rock, beginning as a second assistant keeper in 1928. In 1939, when the Coast Guard took over management of lighthouses from the old civilian Lighthouse Service, Strout joined that branch of the service and thus became the first Coast Guard keeper at Halfway Rock.

boat passes by Halfway rock light



Places to Visit:

Between Portland and Brunswick, visitors will find many roads leading from Route 1 out into the many peninsulas and some islands that make up Maine’s coastline. Both Bailey Island and nearby Eagle Island are very quiet rustic places dotted with artists galleries, fishing boats, and local places to eat that seem stuck in time, and are accessible from boats like Casco Bay Cruises out of Portland. They provide a very relaxed atmosphere for visitors to recharge.

The lighthouse can be seen distantly from an area called Land's End located at the southern tip of Bailey Island. You can take Route 24 from Route 1 in Brunswick and follow the signs to Bailey Island. Land's End is at the end of the route, with of course, the Land's End Gift Shop.

Visitors may also get on to Bailey Island using Casco Bay Cruises or other cruises leaving out of Portland. Both Bailey Island and nearby Eagle Island are very quiet rustic places dotted with artists galleries, fishing boats, and local places to eat that seem stuck in time. They provide a very relaxed atmosphere for visitors to recharge.

This remote lighthouse is best viewed by boat. Sea Escape Cottages and Charters will provide a charter boat at times to go to the lighthouse. remote Halfway Rock lighthouse

Bailey Island offers plenty of opportunities for bird watching, fishing, or simply exploring around this 1 mile by three miles long island. There are only a few roads so its not easy to get yourself lost. A small sandy cove called Cedar Beach located off of Robinhood Road invites visitors to relax and explore. You can also park on a side street at Washington Ave on the eastern side of the island and walk down Ocean Street to enjoy waves at high tide crashing on the rocky picturesque shoreline.

Nearby Eagle Island, only accessible by boat, has recently been designated as a National Historic Site, where you'll find a bird nesting sanctuary with plenty of hiking trails, and it was home to the famed arctic explorer Admiral Peary. It is also a favorite kayak and boating destination, and is maintained by the Friends of Peary's Eagle Island.

On the mainland, taking either Routes 123 or 24, in the town of Harpswell, there are plenty of hiking trails that are easily marked to explore. During the summer, besides good food, the Dolphin Restaurant and Marina (off Route 123) provides the twenty-minute boat ride to and from Eagle Island.

In Brunswick, visit the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, which, among many professional art exhibits, now houses the new Peary-MacMillan Artic Museum, named after Admiral Peary, the first man to reach the arctic north pole, with plenty of arctic artifacts and stories.



Contact Info:
American Lighthouse Foundation
P.O. Box 565
Rockland, ME 04841
Phone: (207) 594-4174



Local Boat Charters that Pass By the Lighthouse

Sometimes, you may find annual tours out of Portland that may offer views of the lighthouse. The businesses below offer personal charter tours out to the lighthouse and are located nearby on the mainland.

Sea Escape Cottages & Charters Inc
Offers cottages to relax and enjoy sunsets, offshore and on shore fishing, boating opportunities, and charters to Halfway Rock Lighthouse.

Donna and Les McNelley
P.O. Box 7
23 Sea Escape Lane.
Bailey Island, Maine 04003
Phone: (207) 833-5531



Rocky Coast Cruises
For those who want a more personal tour around the area, they provide various nature and historical charter cruises around Casco Bay and out to the islands, and offer charter service to go out to Halfway Rock Lighthouse.
Captain Joe Smith
6 Stovers Ocean Ave.
Harpswell, Maine
Phone: (207) 751 6501



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, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special vacations.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions






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