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IN THE FIELD: West Quoddy Head Light

January 23, 2012 37 comments

In my previous post, I described our quest to be the first people in the country to see the sunrise at Quoddy Head State Park, which is the eastern most point in the United States.

While the sunrise that morning was short lived due to dense fog, we returned a few hours before sunset to visit the West Quoddy Head Light.

The 49 foot tall lighthouse and keepers house were built in 1858 and stand guard over the Quoddy Narrows, which is a strait between Canada and the United States. Known to be a very foggy area, the beacon, fog horns and bells warn mariners of the dangerous ledges, cliffs, and the infamous Sail Rock, which is a large outcropping several hundred yards out to sea.

The lighthouse is now automated and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. While closed to visitors, tours can be taken of the light keepers house. As we explored the site on our own, we wondered what life was like for the person or family who’s task it was to maintain the lighthouse. How did they entertain themselves? Was it a lonely experience or did they embrace the privacy? Were they allowed to leave the site to go into town once in a while?

Fortunately, we ran into a volunteer who was preparing to give the last tour of the day. How lucky was that? We learned about the lifestyle of the light keepers and their families, how they maintained the station and what they did for amusement. This lighthouse is not as remote as others in the state, so the families often had visitors. The children walked to school for several miles to the town of Lubec. Supplies for the keeper’s families were procured there as well.

At the end of our tour, I was able to capture this image of the station, bathed in lavender light from the sunset. Grand Manan Island which is part of New Brunswick, Canada, is visible at the horizon, about five miles out to sea.