This is short one – Boon Island is tiny! Before I start, I’d like to give a shout out to the blogs of other authors in my area who are doing the A-Z Challenge:
Bob Byrd: Bob is working on his second book, a noirish mystery with an big dog, set on the post-world War II coast of North Carolina. An avid sailor, Bob is writing about things nautical. https://byrdwords.wordpress.com
Stephenie Houghtlin: Stepheny is about to release her second book, set in Chicago, so she has chosen to give us a tour of Chicago. http://stephenyhoughtlin.com/
Elizabeth Hein: Elizabeth is the author of two books and is A-Zing on the Galapagos Islands, the site for her next book. https://scribblinginthestorageroom.wordpress.com
Without further ado, so here is my post for today:
Boon Island Light is located on the 300-by-700-foot Boon Island, off the southern coast of Maine, nine miles from the beach at York. It’s most certainly a place that Rhe would have explored in her boat, the Glass Trinket, since it is not open to the public. From land, it can be seen from Cape Neddick. It is the tallest lighthouse in New England at 133 feet, and has a beacon which flashes white every 5 seconds.
The idea of building a lighthouse on this tiny bit of land began in 1710, when the ship Nottingham Galley ran aground there, stranding the crew. The crew had to resort to cannibalism before they were found. A station and a day marker were established on the island in 1799, but granite tower with its light were not constructed until 1811, authorized by President James Madison.
One of the most isolated stations off the Maine coast, Boon Island Light is also one of the most dangerous. Strong storms in the area washed away both the first tower and its replacement, and the current tower was constructed in 1811. A second order Fresnel lens was installed. This lens lacks the bulk and heaviness of the former lens and can capture more oblique light from a light source, thus allowing the light to be visible over greater distances. A blizzard in 1978 washed some of the tower, the keeper’s dwelling and other outbuildings into the sea, and a result the station was automated and a solar powered beacon installed by the US Coast Guard.
Because of the isolation and the danger, at first Boon Island was barely able to attract and retain a keeper. A raise in salary helped, almost too well: it led to unscrupulous competition.
In 1932, a newspaper printed a letter about the life of a keeper at Boon Island. “One has to have a varied knowledge of things to be a light keeper. As one keeper here recently said, ‘I thought all one had to know how to do out here was to clean, paint, and polish brass, but I have found out that one has to be doctor, painter, steeplejack, glazier, boatman, gasoline engineer, electrician, stone cutter and even a cook when the women folks leave us in the fall.’.”
Legends about the station abound. There is a story that the keepers were once marooned on the island for several weeks because of storms and rough weather, resulting in a depletion of their food supplies. At the point of starvation, the keeper sent a message in a bottle, which was picked up by a passing schooner. The schooner’s crew packed some food in a mackerel barrel, setting it afloat, and drifted into a little cove on the island where it was bounced out of the sea by the surf. The legend persists that during the 19th century, one of the light keepers died, leaving his wife alone to tend the station and the light. Eventually, she descending into insanity and was found wandering the island by members of a rescue ship.
Sad to say, Boon Island Light is not open to the public, but landing there could be problematic!