Lighthouses

Nubble, Boone and Whaleback light

Cape Neddick Light / Nubble Lighthouse

Officially the Cape Neddick Light Station, it was built in 1879 for $15,000 on a nub of land—thus the Nubble. It was first lighted on July 1, 1879. The current beacon is a 1000 watt bulb behind red plaxiglass. It flashes 3 seconds on and three seconds off. It is visible for 13 miles. The automated foghorn is activated by the atmosphere and blasts every 10 seconds.

Nubble in Summer

Lighting of the Nubble

Nubble in December

The tower is 41 feet high and 88 feet above sea level. It is built of brick that has been covered by metal sheathing. Thirty-three circular iron steps go up to the lantern room. The first innkeeper was Nathanial Otterson, and the last was Russell Ahlgren. The light was automated in 1987.

Living quarters consisted of 3 bedrooms, kitchen, dining, living, and pantry. The smaller red house was once used for fuel and the little white house was a workshop. The light is maintained by the Coast Guard, but the Town of York owns the property and buildings. It is maintained by the York Parks and Recreation Committee. There is no public access allowed on the island.

The Sohier Park, which is located on the mainland, has ample parking for visitors as well as benches and rest room facilities. A small gift shop full of lighthouse memorabilia is manned by volunteers from May through October. Proceeds from the sale of goods there go toward the maintenance of the park and lighthouse.

This lighthouse is one of the most photographed and painted in the world. Thousands of people visit it annually, and twice a year the lighthouse is outlined in Christmas lights and lit at night in special celebrations. Christmas in July is part of the York Week celebration held during the last week in July and the first week of August. The Lighting of the Nubble celebration is held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving from 5pm to 7pm. Hot cocoa and homemade cookies are provided free of charge during the Christmas carols. Then Santa arrives via fire truck to flick the switch, turning the lights on. The lights stay on at night until January 1st, weather permitting.

Boon Island Light

After a particularly grizzly episode of cannibalism on this desolate rock pile, locals left food and clothing here for the use of any shipwreck victim; hence the somewhat ironic name, “Boon”. This tiny island, about six miles off the coast of York, has been continually submerged by storms and the light has been rebuilt several times. Today its brick cylinder rises 137 feet, making it Maine’s tallest lighthouse. It is not open to the public, but it can be seen from Sohier Park, off Nubble Road, in York Beach and as part of local lighthouse cruises. Boon Island Lighthouse was built in 1811.

Whaleback Light

This light guards the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor and looks as its name suggests: like a lighthouse perched atop the back of a whale. It is a 75 foot granite conical tower on a reef. It is closed to the public, but can be seen from Fort Foster in Kittery and from the water. Whaleback Light was built in 1831.