Scenic USA - Maine
Perkins Island Lighthouse
|Photo by Robert Ballard
Robert Ballard Photography
Because of Maine's rocky coastline and complicated navigation channels, many lighthouses were built to aid 19th century mariners. Today, over 60 lighthouses are spaced out up and down the intricate shoreline, and many remain active navigational aids.
Maine's Kennebec River, flowing almost due south, was one of the state's most important shipping channels. Connecting Maine's capital at Augusta with the Atlantic Ocean, the river's entrance was well marked by two lighthouses. With a 19th century shipbuilding center located just upstream from the coast at Bath, and daily steamship runs upriver, the Kennebec saw a steady increase in river traffic. Shipping companies petitioned Congress year after year for more navigational aids on the river, but just as today, Congress was slow to act.
It was nearly 100 years since the Sequin Island Light was built near the Kennebec River mouth, when congress approved additional lighthouses up-river, lighting tricky turns in the river. Squirrel Point Light, a series of range lights and Doubling Point Lighthouse, joined similar looking Perkins Island Light on the Kennebec River in 1898.
Even though Perkins Island Lighthouse was close to the mainland, the light-station had no electricity or running water. The job of light keeper fell to the families that were resourceful and self reliant, a rare breed that could live comfortably without a telephone and many other niceties.
The Perkins Island Lighthouse no longer has a light keeper, having been automated in 1959. Friends of Perkins Island Lighthouse continue their work of repair and restoration having recently completed the station's pyramidal bell tower. The lighthouse can be seen from Parker Head Road in Phippsburg, but is best enjoyed from one of the lighthouse cruise boats.
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