New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide
Pumpkin Island Light
Near Little Deer Isle, Maine
Pumpkin Island Light main page / History / Bibliography / Cruises / Photos / Postcards

History

From the entrance [of Eggemoggin Reach] at Pumpkin Island out again at the Devil's Head, no sail could be more charmingly diversified, more full of scenic surprises, or more free from actual or hidden dangers. One cannot look in any direction without seeing some new picture.

-- Samuel Adams Drake, The Pine Tree Coast, 1891.

Congress authorized the building of a lighthouse on tiny Pumpkin Island in 1852. The light in eastern Penobscot Bay marks the south side of the northwestern entrance to the body of water known as Eggemoggin Reach, which provides passage from Penobscot Bay to Jericho Bay and Blue Hill Bay. In the nineteenth century, this area was heavily traveled by vessels carrying lumber as well as summer pleasure craft.

Pumpkin Island Light c. 1870s, with its original lantern (U.S. Coast Guard)

Construction was at first delayed because of difficulties obtaining the needed property. The light went into service on Januaty 1, 1855, and the first keeper -- at $350 yearly -- was J. C. Tibbetts, who stayed until 1861. The station consists of a 25-foot brick tower and a 1 1/2-story Colonial Cape keeper's house, attached to the tower by a work shed.. The lantern held a fifth-order Fresnel lens, one of the earliest Fresnel lenses in Maine. An oil house was added in 1904; an 1885 boathouse was enlarged in 1906.

In 1889, the lighthousewas fitted with a new lantern, increasing its height by three feet.

Charles Leroy Babson, a native of Brooklin, Maine, was keeper from 1870 to 1902. Babson had received a gunshot wound in the Civil War that led to the amputation of his left leg.

In 1909, the original lens was replaced by another fifth-order lens. The light was discontinued and the station was destaffed in 1933.

In 1934, Pumpkin Island Light was one of several of Maine lighthouses that were discontinued and put up for auction by the government. George Harmon of Bar Harbor bought the station along with two others. Since then the island has passed through several private owners.

U.S. Coast Guard
island and lighthouse from the water

An automatic beacon near Pumpkin Island continues today as an aid to navigation. You can get a good view by turning right on Eggemoggin Road just after crossing the bridge from the north to Little Deer Isle and continuing to the end.

Some of the schooners out of Rockland, Rockport, and Camden occasionally pass nearby.


Keepers: John Chester Tibbetts (1854-1861); J. G. Walker (1861-1864); Joshua Snow (1864-1870); Charles L. Babson (1870-1902); Charles H. Newman (c. 1920s); F. A. Rumery (?-1933)

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

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