B = Boon Island Light

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.

Stephenie Houghtlin: Stepheny is about to release her second book, set in Chicago, so she has chosen to give us a tour of Chicago.

Elizabeth Hein: Elizabeth is the author of two books and is A-Zing on the Galapagos Islands, the site for her next book. 

 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.

Boon Island LightOne 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.

New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide
New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide

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!



41 thoughts on “B = Boon Island Light”

  1. I love a good lighthouse story. I’m just in the throws of writing my B post, which will be about Byron Bay…Australia’s most Easterly point. I am looking forward to participating in the challenge and will look up those posts you mentioned. I rewally do love reading blogs exploring other places. Not travel blogs as such but posts written by people who intimately know the place and have all those interesting inside snippets and not just a series of postcard perspectives. I(‘m particularly interested in the the Galapagos Island one.

    1. Rowena, you will really like the Galapagos- I was there some years ago on a sailboat with my kids. The animal life is fantastic, and I know Elizabeth made the trip!

    1. It’s hard to believe that anyone could be that isolated, but in the winter you couldn’t even fish! Maine has a LOT of lighthouses, most of them lovely and quite accessible!

    1. The place is automated, Barb, and probably a wise thing to do. The previous keepers were stranded there. Still, it’s exciting to think about!

  2. I love lighthouses too! I also love the three blogs you highlighted – there really are far to many great blogs out there to keep up with all of them, all of the time!


  3. Elizabeth Calwell

    I love lighthouses! Please talk about Camden, Maine. I’ve been there and did a Windjammer cruise from there.

  4. Fascinating! I can see where it would be both not open to the public and full of history. I’ve heard the story about the lightkeeper’s wife before though I can’t say for certain if it was there or another place. I’ll have to go figure out where I saw that story to find out.

    1. Now I have a question for you: by the time you get to the end, you need to figure out which two I am going to see personally this summer! Happy Easter to you, too! Here’s to lots of chocolate bunnies.

  5. Thanks for taking us to another beautiful place, Noelle. Part of me is glad the island is not opened to the public. Keep it clean and natural that way. Sad to say. Great post.

  6. Great Info on the history. I enjoy the southern coast of Maine and that area but it’s a little different than up North, isn’t it.

  7. Hi Noelle,
    I saw you at Don Charisma’s site and today at someone else’s. I can’t remember whose–I was trying to catch up on a lot of networking while getting my nails done. I wrote you from their site though.
    Thank you so much for visiting my site on Tuesday. I’m glad you liked my post “Do You Make These 3 Blogging Mistakes?” I think it was well-received.
    Nice to see you around the Internet this week. Nice to meet you.

    1. Thanks, Janice. I tried to find time to bop around different blogs this past month and I like it when someone finds me!
      I’ll be a regular visitor, hopefully. Right now I am smack dab in the middle of my third book and pushing hard to get it done by June, so I can start the long process of editing and improving it!

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