An early beacon at the end of the
- Shore Village Historical Society
limestone industry thrived in midcoast Maine for about two centuries.
After it was quarried, the stone was heated in kilns and converted to
lime, an important ingredient in building construction. The industry
reached such heights that the community of East Thomaston, with 80
limekilns on its waterfront, was renamed Rockland in the mid-1800s.
combined with shipbuilding, fishing and fish processing, granite
quarrying, ice harvesting, and steamship transportation to make
Rockland’s spacious harbor one of the busiest on the Maine coast. The
harbor was also an important place of refuge for vessels in times of
storms and rough seas.
To aid local navigation, a small lantern was placed at Jameson Point on
the north side of the entrance to Rockland Harbor in 1827. An early
attempt to build a structure to protect the harbor was carried out in
1832, when mason Jeremiah Berry, a mason, constructed a small wall
across a portion of the harbor. Construction of a more substantial
breakwater was deferred for several decades because of the high costs.
In the meantime, lime manufacturers suffered occasional losses when
high, storm-driven seas roared into their kiln sheds, sometimes causing
Between 1881 and 1899, a granite breakwater, almost a mile
long, was built to help protect the harbor. The Bodwell Granite
Company used around 700,000 tons of granite for the project,
which cost more than three quarters of a million dollars.
As the work progressed, a small moveable beacon was moved
farther out each time the breakwater was extended. The light
was relocated four times between 1888 and 1895. Charles Ames
served as the light's attendant for some years at $25 per month.
He also struck a metal triangle when a fog signal was called
for. Ames usually walked to the light, but if the breakwater was covered with ice, he rowed out from Jameson Point.
in June 1900, Congress appropriated $30,000 for a lighthouse and fog
signal at the outer end of the breakwater. In June 1901, the beacon was
moved to the extreme end of the breakwater to make room for the new
station. At the lighthouse site, the breakwater is 65 feet deep, 43
feet wide at the top, and 175 feet wide at the bottom.
construction by the W. H. Glover Company of Rockland got under way on
July 1, 1901, and continued through December 19. The work resumed in
the following April and was completed by the fall, and the light,
flashing white every five seconds, went into service on October 30, 1902
U.S. Coast Guard Academy Library
- The stairs inside the tower
station consisted of a one-and-one-half-story, gambrel-roofed,
wood-frame keeper’s dwelling and attached brick fog signal building,
surmounted by a 25-foot-tall, square, red brick tower. The interiors of
the fog signal building and lighthouse tower were lined with
ceramic-faced brick. The lantern held a rotating fourth-order Fresnel
lens with a focal plane 39 feet above mean high water, and the fog
signal was a first-class Daboll trumpet. A boathouse was attached to
the north end of the pier.
In the early years of the station, the fog signal was sounded as many
as 900 hours during the year, or more than 10 percent of the time. A
fog bell was later added as a backup.
The first keeper was Howard P. Robbins, a veteran of 25
years at Mount Desert Rock Light, Blue Hill Bay Light, and Baker Island
Light. Shortly after the station went into service, Robbins’s yearly
pay was raised from $500 to $540. His son, Clifford M. Robbins, was
appointed assistant keeper in November 1902.
Howard and Clifford Robbins resigned in 1909. Years later, Clifford
Robbins remembered the thick ice that sometimes surrounded the
lighthouse in the winter. “Three or four winters like that in a row,”
he said, “and I got fed up with lighthouse keeping!”
- U.S. Coast Guard photo
Albert D. Mills and his father, Albert R. Mills, rowing a Lighthouse
Service peapod boat. Albert R. Mills was a keeper at Goose Rocks Light.
Courtesy of the American Lighthouse Foundation.
This was a "stag" station, meaning the keeper's
families did not live at the lighthouse. The keepers usually
traveled by boat to Rockland Harbor, two miles away, rather than
making the long trek over the breakwater.
The keepers augmented their menu by trapping lobsters near
the lighthouse. One former Coast Guardsman who was stationed
at the lighthouse in 1951, Warren "Tommy" Ayres, told
the Bangor Daily News that the officer in charge once
caught a 27-pound lobster. "The claw was as big as my shoe,"
Rockland Breakwater Light was automated in 1965 and the keepers
were removed. The fourth-order Fresnel lens was also removed;
its current whereabouts are unknown. The Coast Guard announced
that they were going to destroy the structure. A public outcry
led to the nearby Samoset Resort taking some responsibility for
the upkeep of the building, after the City of Rockland turned
down the property.
In 1989, the resort relinquished its responsibilities for
the lighthouse. The Rockland City Council applied for the property
in 1998 under the Maine Lights Program.
The goal, said the Rockland City Council, is "to protect
and preserve our own history to increase the access to this historic
structure for our own citizens and visitors to the history of
our region and that of the Breakwater Light." Rockland Breakwater
Light is on Rockland's emblem and letterhead.
The Maine Lighthouse Selection Committee approved the transfer
of Rockland Breakwater Light to the City of Rockland in 1998.
The Friends of
the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, a chapter of the
Foundation, was established, and a lease was signed with
the city in 2001. The Friends have been gradually restoring the
building, inside and out.
In the summer of 1999, the exterior was scraped and repainted
by volunteers, including sailors from a visiting U.S. Navy Destroyer,
the U.S.S. Stump. A local Sherwin-Williams paint store
donated paint for the refurbishing, and local restaurants provided
food for the volunteers.
A float and ramp were installed in August 2003. The Rockland
Festival Committee donated the float, allowing easier access
for both people working on the restoration as well as visitors
who can't walk the breakwater.
In the fall of 2003, the Friends
of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse contracted with
EPI (Environmental Projects Inc.) of Gray, Maine to prepare the
interior of the lighthouse for restoration. EPI removed crumbling
lathe and plaster as well as unnecessary conduit and piping.
Also in the fall of 2003, a large, white painted mahogany
bench was added to the boat deck of the lighthouse, providing
a comfortable place for visitors to sit and soak in the view.
Much additional restoration has been completed in recent years.
Open houses are held at the lighthouse from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00
p.m., every Saturday and Sunday from the end of May to the middle
of October. The walk to the lighthouse is a pleasant one on a
nice day, but in rough weather waves sometimes lap over the granite
The best views for photographing the lighthouse are from the
water. The ferries from Rockland to Vinalhaven and North Haven
pass close by, as do many excursion boats and schooners from
Rockland, Camden and Rockport.
If you'd like to help with the restoration of this unique
- Friends of
the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
- P.O. Box 741
- Rockland, Maine 04841
list is a work in progress. If you have any information on the keepers
of this lighthouse, I'd love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com.
Anyone copying this list onto another web site does so at their own
risk, as the list is always subject to updates and corrections.)
- Keepers (Special thanks to Ted Panayotoff for his help with this
- Eba Ring (caretaker of earlier beacon, 1888?-?); Llewelyn
Charles Ames (caretaker of earlier beacon, c. 1895-1902); Howard
P. Robbins (1902-1909); Clifford M. Robbins (assistant,1902-1909);
Charles W. Thurston (1909, died 12/24/09); Leroy S. Elwell (assistant,
1909, keeper, 1909-1916); Harold I. Hutchins (1916-1917); Edward
J. Collins (assistant, 1909); Harry Smith (assistant, 1910);
Albert D. Mills (assistant, 1912); Wallace M. Pierce (assistant
1913-1915); Fairfield H. Moore (1917-1921); Albert P. Tribou
(assistant c.1916-1923); Myrick Morrison (c. 1921-?); Winfield P. Kent (1921-1925); Ernest
V. Talbot (assistant 1924); Leroy S. Elwell (1925-1928); Fairfield
H. Moore (1928-1934, died 4/13/34); Bernard A. Small (assistant
1928); William L. Lockhart (assistant 1930-1931); Earle Emery
Benson (assistant, 1931-1934); George E. Woodward (assistant
1934, then keeper 1934-1945); Weston E. Thompson (assistant,
1935); Ernest F. Witty (assistant 1935-1942); Carol A. Hollowell
(Coast Guard, c. 1942 and 1951); Rengo Peccioli (Coast Guard,
c. 1942); Anthony Kuckta (Coast Guard, c. 1942); Frank Pasicka
(Coast Guard, 1942-?); Harry W. Metz (Coast Guard, 1942-1943);
John E. Dalton (Coast Guard, c. 1943); Walter Campbell (Coast
Guard, c. 1943); Stephan Walach (Coast Guard, ?-1943); Ronald
E. Herbet (Coast Guard, 1943-?); Joseph Morressey (Coast Guard,
1943-?); Francis W. Sheehan (Coast Guard, 1943); Howard Ball
(Coast Guard, 1943-?); Nathan Penn (Coast Guard, 1943); Cedric
Forbes (Coast Guard, 1943-?); Steve S. Roper (Coast Guard, c.
1943); Larry Springer (Coast Guard, c. 1943); Steve Kopera (Coast
Guard, c. 1944); David Goldenberg (Coast Guard, 1944); Arthur
F. Silva (Coast Guard, ?-1945); Donald Miller (Coast Guard, 1945);
James H. McKenna (Coast Guard, 1945); William Stillman (Coast
Guard, 1945-1946); Frank Edwards (Coast Guard, 1945-1946); William
Broderick (Coast Guard, 1946); Joseph F. Lundquist (Coast Guard,
1946); Edward Sterling (Coast Guard, 1946); Willard Benson (Coast
Guard, 1946); Lloyd Lewis (Coast Guard, 1946); James M. Harris
(Coast Guard, 1946-1947); John Alexander (Coast Guard, 1946-1947);
Joseph M. Mansfield (Coast Guard, 1947-1948); David L. Atkinson
(Coast Guard, 1947); Joseph J. Lambert (Coast Guard, 1947); William
H. Parsley (Coast Guard, 1947-1948); Henry Blandeau (Coast Guard,
1948-1949); Armond E. Nelms (Coast Guard, 1948); Thomas Leroy
Winters (Coast Guard, 1948); Boyce R. McKee (Coast Guard, 1949);
Richard C. Ames (Coast Guard, 1949-1950); F. W. Miller (Coast
Guard, 1949-1950); Thomas B. Jeffries (Coast Guard, 1950); Frank
W. Alley (Coast Guard, 1950); Joseph Medeiros (Coast Guard, 1950);
James R. Wilson (Coast Guard, 1950); Christopher Tucker (Coast
Guard, 1950); Richard M. Kosick (Coast Guard, 1950); Robert D.
Coppens (Coast Guard, 1950); Edward J. Ryan (Coast Guard, 1950-1951);
George J. Foley (Coast Guard, 1951); John A. Johnson (Coast Guard,
1951-1952); Robert P. Ouellette (Coast Guard, 1951); William
F. Liekerbniect (Coast Guard, c. 1951); Roy V. Lauder (Louder?)
(Coast Guard, 1951 and 1964-1965); ? Parker (Coast Guard, c.
1952); James E. Murry (Murray?) (Coast Guard, 1952); ? Quattromone
(Coast Guard, ?-1952); Dannie Davis (Coast Guard, c. 1952); Leo
S. Enchard (Coast Guard, 1953-?); George A. Roderigue (Coast
Guard, 1953); Daniel A. Elliott (Coast Guard, 1955); Robert T.
Boody (Coast Guard, 1955); Otis Jackson (Coast Guard, 1956-1957);
Robert James Yered (Coast Guard, c. 1957?); Luther M. Smith (Coast
Guard, 1960); Lee H. Cushing (Coast Guard, 1962-1963); W. O.
Wallford (Coast Guard, 1964); Vinal A. Foss (Coast Guard Officer
in Charge, 1945); BM1 Weston E. Gamage, Jr. (Coast Guard Officer
in Charge, 1945-1950); Leland (Leyland?) B. Beal (Coast Guard
Officer in Charge1950-1955); Harry Watters (Coast Guard Officer
in Charge, 1951); Edward A. Whitmore (Coast Guard Officer in
Charge, 1951); Warren "Tommy" Ayres (Coast Guard, c.
1951-1953); John Kusmierazak (Coast Guard Officer in Charge,
1955-1960); Charles H. Verrill (Coast Guard assistant 1959, Officer
in Charge, 1960); Stephan D. Hansen (Coast Guard Officer in Charge,
1960); Lawrence F. Crouse (Coast Guard Officer in Charge, 1960);
Richard T. Hassett (Coast Guard Officer in Charge, 1961); Charles
A. Balsdon (Coast Guard Officer in Charge, 1962); Murray A. Berger
(Coast Guard Officer in Charge, 1964); SA Charles A. Bailey (Coast
Guard, 1964); Larry A. Plummer (Coast Guard assistant 1964-1965)