Whaleback Light

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Whaleback Light
Whaleback Lighthouse
Whaleback Light is located in Maine
Whaleback Light
Location Piscataqua River entrance, Kittery, Maine
Coordinates 43°3′31.534″N 70°41′46.701″W / 43.05875944°N 70.69630583°W / 43.05875944; -70.69630583Coordinates: 43°3′31.534″N 70°41′46.701″W / 43.05875944°N 70.69630583°W / 43.05875944; -70.69630583
Year first constructed 1830
Year first lit 1872 (current tower)
Automated 1963
Foundation Stone / timber
Construction Granite blocks
Tower shape Conical
Markings / pattern Natural
Focal height 59 feet (18 m)
Original lens Fourth order Fresnel lens, 1855
Current lens VLB-44
Range 14 nautical miles (26 km; 16 mi)
Characteristic Grp Flash (2) White, 10s
Fog signal HORN: 2 every 30s
Admiralty number J0232
ARLHS number USA-963
USCG number


Whaleback Light Station
Nearest city Kittery Point, Maine
Area less than one acre
Built 1872
Architect US Army Corps of Engineers
MPS Light Stations of Maine MPS
NRHP reference # 87002278[4]
Added to NRHP March 23, 1988
Heritage place listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata

Whaleback Light is a historic lighthouse marking the mouth of the Piscataqua River between New Castle, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine. It is located on a rocky outcrop offshore southwest of Fort Foster and south of Wood Island in Kittery. A light has been active at this location since 1820; the present tower was built in 1872. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.[4]


The station (known in early records as "Whales Back") was first established in 1820. In 1829, a replacement was built for $20,000. The tower was upgraded in 1855 with a new lantern and a fourth order Fresnel lens. A fog bell and tower were installed in 1863. In 1869, storms had caused cracks in the tower and foundation causing the decision to build a new tower in 1872. The new tower, still standing today, was built with dovetailed granite blocks alongside the original tower, which was removed in 1880. The light is 59 feet (18 m) above mean sea level, and the tower, also housed the keeper's living quarters and a storage area.[5]

At some point the fog bell was replaced with a horn and in 1991, the volume of the horn was reduced because it was damaging the integrity of the structure. The light was automated in 1963.[5]

The current lighthouse exhibits two white flashes every 10 seconds and is created by a modern VLB-44 LED light, which was installed in October 2009.[6]

In 2007, under the National Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, Whaleback lighthouse was made available to a suitable new steward. The American Lighthouse Foundation and its chapter Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses submitted an application and in November 2008, became the new owners.[7]

Keepers [1][edit]

  • Samuel E. Haskell (1831–1839)
  • Joseph L. Locke (1839–1840)
  • Zachariah Chickering (1840)
  • John Kennard (1840)
  • Joseph D. Currier (1841)
  • Eliphalet Grover (1841–1843)
  • J. Prentiss Locke (1843-unknown)
  • Richard R. Lock (c. 1847)
  • Jedediah Rand (1849–1853)
  • Reuben T. Leavitt (1853–1859)
  • Oliver P. Tucker (1859–1860)
  • Gustavus A. Abbott (1860–1861)
  • Joel P. Reynolds (1861–1864)
  • Edward Parks (assistant, 1863–1864)
  • Nathaniel P. Campbell (1864)
  • Ambrose Card (assistant, then keeper 1864)
  • Gilbert Amee (assistant 1864, then keeper 1864-1869)
  • Mrs. M. M. Amee (assistant, 1864–1867)
  • Isaac W. Chauncy (assistant, 1867–1868)
  • James W. Verney (1869–1871)
  • Ferdinand Barr (assistant 1868-1871, became keeper 3/22/1871)
  • Emily F. Barr (assistant, 1871)
  • William H. Caswell (1871–1872)
  • Frank P. Caswell (assistant, 1871–1872)
  • Chandler Martin (1872–1878)
  • George R. Frost (assistant, 1872–1873)
  • Frank L. Chauncey (assistant, 1873 and 1876–1880)
  • John L. A. Martin (assistant 1874-1876)
  • Leander White (1878–1887)
  • John W. Lewis (assistant 1880-1882)
  • Brackett Lewis (assistant 1883-1885)
  • Ellison C. White (assistant 1885-1887, principal keeper 1887-1888)
  • James M. Haley (1888–1893)
  • Daniel Stevens (assistant 1887-1890)
  • John W. Robinson (assistant 1890-1892)
  • James Haley (Jr.?) (assistant 1892-1893)
  • Walter S. Amee (1893–1921)
  • Wallace S, Chase (assistant 1893-1894)
  • Alvah J. Tobey (assistant 1894-1899)
  • Joseph A. Pruett (assistant 1896-1897)
  • John W. Wetzel (assistant 1897-1924)
  • John P. Brooks (assistant, 1899–1915)
  • Arnold B. White (1921–1941)
  • W. A. Alley (c. 1935)
  • Maynard F. Farnsworth (c. 1922-1940s)
  • Charles U. Gardner (relief keeper, c, 1942–1943)
  • Francis D. Hickey (Coast Guard, c. 1956-1957)
  • Robert Brann (Coast Guard, c. 1957)
  • Stephen H. Rogers (USCG, c. 1957-1958)
  • James Pope (Coast Guard, c. early 1960s)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: Maine". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.
  2. ^ Light List, Volume I, Atlantic Coast, St. Croix River, Maine to Shrewsbury River, New Jersey (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2009. p. 3.
  3. ^ Rowlett, Russ (2009-12-07). "Lighthouses of the United States: Southern Maine". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  4. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  5. ^ a b "NRHP nomination for Whaleback Light Station". National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
  6. ^ "ave of future sweeps over Whaleback Lighthouse". 2009-10-29.
  7. ^ "Whaleback Lighthouse Receives New Keepers". MaineBusiness.com. 2008-11-18.

External links[edit]