Matinicus Rock Light

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Matinicus Rock Light
Matinicus light house.jpg
Matinicus Lighthouse, drawn in March 1848
Matinicus Rock Light is located in Maine
Matinicus Rock Light
Location 6 miles south of Matinicus Island, Town of Criehaven, Maine
Coordinates 43°47′.502″N 68°51′18.119″W / 43.78347278°N 68.85503306°W / 43.78347278; -68.85503306Coordinates: 43°47′.502″N 68°51′18.119″W / 43.78347278°N 68.85503306°W / 43.78347278; -68.85503306
Year first constructed 1827
Year first lit 1846 (current tower)
Automated 1983
Foundation Natural emplaced
Construction Granite blocks
Tower shape Cylindrical twin towers
Markings / pattern Natural
Focal height 90 feet (27 m)
Original lens Third order Fresnel lens
Current lens VRB-25
Range 20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi)
Characteristic Flashing white 10s
Fog signal HORN: 1 every 15s, operates continuously.
Admiralty number J0116
ARLHS number USA-484
USCG number


Matinicus Rock Light Station
Nearest city Matinicus Isle, Maine
Built 1847 (1847)
Architect US Army Corps of Engineers
Alexander Parris
MPS Light Stations of Maine MPS
NRHP reference # 88000149[4]
Added to NRHP March 14, 1988
Heritage place listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata

Matinicus Rock Light, is a lighthouse in on Matinicus Rock, a windswept rock 18 miles (29 km) off the coast of Maine. It is one of eleven seacoast lights off the coast of Maine.[1] First established in 1827, the present surviving structures date to 1857. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Matinicus Rock Light Station on March 14, 1988.[4]


Matinicus Rock is a windswept and treeless rock, projecting out of the Gulf of Maine several miles south of the main islands of Matinicus Isle, Maine, an island community that is a 20-mile (32 km) ferry ride from Rockland. The light station occupies the center of the rock, and includes two towers, a keeper's house, shed, and boathouse. The dock is located on the northwest side of the rock. The two towers are 41 feet (12 m) in height, built out of ashlar granite stone. Only the southern one is active, and has a twelve-sided lantern house, while the other has lost its lantern house. Connected to the active tower is the keeper's house, a single-story frame structure whose end walls are semicircular granite structures, remnants of the older lighthouses.[5]


In 1827 the United States Lighthouse Service erected a pair of wooden light towers and a cobblestone keeper's residence on Matinicus Rock. The lights guided sea traffic until 1848 when they were replaced by the granite structure (see picture). In 1857 the government rebuilt the towers and placed them 180 feet (55 m) apart to make them more effective; the north light was deactivated in 1924.[1] Alexander Parris, the architect who designed the 1848 lighthouses, also designed many stone buildings in New England including the 1825 Quincy Market in Boston, Massachusetts.

US Coast Guard photo c. 1980

Matinicus Light is famous for the story of Abbie Burgess, who as a young girl maintained the light for several weeks while her father, the lighthouse keeper, was on the mainland. Winter storms prevented his timely return. Her mother was also very sick.

Matinicus Rock is now fully automated. A diesel generator used for power was replaced by solar panels in 2007. Matinicus Rock is known as being the southernmost nesting site for the Atlantic puffin and as of 2009, the common murre. The Audubon Society often has observers on island during nesting season.

See also[edit]