New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide

Ladies Delight Light

Lake Cobbosseecontee, Winthrop, Maine

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History

Lake Cobbosseecontee lies within the borders of five towns, including Winthrop, Manchester, West Gardiner, Litchfield, and Monmouth. It's just a few miles west of Maine's capital, Augusta. The name Cobbosseecontee is thought to mean, “The place of many sturgeon.” 

The name is said to come from the Abenaki Indians, who fished in the nine-mile long lake -- also known as Lake Cobbossee -- long before the European settlers came. In the late 1800s, the lake grew into a popular resort. Steamboats took visitors to the many inns, hotels, cottages, and sporting camps. 

Sailing regattas helped foster the growing social life around the lake. The Cobbosseecontee Yacht Club (CYC) was established by Daniel Robinson in 1904.

The lake has always been difficult to navigate, which presented a need for aids to navigation to keep the increasing number of boats off the multitude of rocks, ledges, and shoals. The central part of a large, jagged reef in the lake's North Bay forms a small island called Ladies Delight.

In 1908, a lighthouse was constructed on Ladies Delight Island by the Cobbosseecontee Yacht Club.  The lighthouse was designed by Frank Morse, a Boston marine architect. It's said that two oxen were used in the construction process.

The builders could transport only one ox at a time because of the size of the barge they used. After taking the first ox to the island, the workers returned to get the second one. In the meantime, the first ox grew lonely and started swimming back to the mainland as the workers returned to the island. They finally succeeded in getting both oxen on the island and Ladies Delight Island Lighthouse was completed over the course of that summer.  

old photo of lighthouse

old photo of lighthouse

The lighthouse, which is 16 feet high with its lantern adding another nine feet, has always been maintained by members of the Cobbosseecontee Yacht Club. Its light source was originally kerosene lanterns. A volunteer keeper would go out each evening to trim the wicks, clean the globes, and light the beacon. A system of grandfather clock weights was used to rotate a reflector. 

A wind-powered generator powered the light for a period in the 1930s, but it now receives its power via a long cable from the Manchester shore.  The light flashes 365 nights a year. 

There were once two other lighthouses on Lake Cobbossecontee besides the one on Ladies Delight Island.

The Belle Island Lighthouse (also known as Turtle Rock Lighthouse), at right, stood on the southwest tip of Belle Island from 1916  to 1938.  It was built privately by Elliott family, owners of half the island.

Crow Island Lighthouse was a windmill-like tower with a kerosene light located off the northeastern tip of Hodgden Island. 

Neither of these lighthouses stand today.

old postcard

The CYC continues to maintain the lighthouse during the summer. During the 1980s Captain Hugh M. Stephens, a former commodore of the Cobbosseecontee Yacht Club, became the volunteer keeper of the light. He has retained the position for more than 25 years.  

The tower is in excellent condition following the correction of a severe list in 2001 and the installation of a new marine grade aluminum lantern in 2005.  The tower's 100th birthday was celebrated in grand fashion during the summer of 2008.

Commodore David R. Dennett of the CYC may be contacted at commodore@cycmaine.org for further information on the lighthouse or yacht club. You can also visit  the CYC website at cycmaine.org. 

Special thanks to David R. Dennett and Hugh M. Stephens for their assistance with this history.

Last updated 7/29/10

Jeremy D'Entremont. Do not reproduce any images or text from this website without permission of the author.


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