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Name: Matinicus Rock Light   Map it!

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Nearest Town or City:
Matinicus, Maine, United States

Location: Penobscot Bay, about five miles south of Matinicus Island.

Click to enlarge: Photo   
Photo: Jeremy D'Entremont
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Managing Organization:
Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge

Telephone: 207-546-2124


Contact Address Information:
P.O. Box 279
Maine, 04658-7805, United States

The most famous story of Matinicus Rock concerns Abbie Burgess, daughter of Keeper Samuel Burgess. When she was 17 years old in 1856 Abbie's father was away and couldn't return due to a storm. Abbie kept the two lights burning for about a month before her father could return. She cared for her invalid mother and younger sisters at the same time. Abbie later married assistant keeper Isaac Grant; they had four children at Matinicus Rock before moving to Whitehead Light. Abbie's grave in Spruce Head is marked by a miniature lighthouse, placed there in the 1940s by historian Edward Rowe Snow and restored by the American Lighthouse Foundation in 1995. The Coast Guard left Matinicus Rock in 1983. In 1997 the lighthouse went to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Maine Lights Program. The island is maintained as a bird sanctuary.

Tower Height: 48

Height of Focal Plane: 90

Characteristic and Range: Flashing white every 10 seconds, visible for 20 nautical miles.

Description of Tower: Cylindrical granite tower with black cast iron lantern (south tower). North tower is inactive and the lantern has been removed.

This light is operational

Other Buildings?
1857 discontinued (1924) north lighthouse tower, 1846 two story granite and wood keeper's house, 1890 boathouse, storage building, two cisterns, brick generator building, two plastic generator sheds.

Earlier Towers?
1827: stone dwelling with two lighthouse towers at each end, 40 feet apart; 1848: two granite towers 60 yards apart.

Date Established: 1827

Date Present Tower Built: 1857

Date Deactivated: 1924 (north light)

Date Automated: 1983 (south light)

Optics: 1857: Third order Fresnel lens (both towers); now Vega VRB-25 solar powered. Original Fresnel lens from the north tower is now at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, ME.

Fog Signal: 1855: 2,000 pound fog bell; 1867: new bell and striking machinery in bell tower; 1869: steam-driven fog whistle; 1888: new brick fog signal building (demolished in 1983); now automated fog horn with one blast every 15 seconds, operating continuously.

Current Use: Active aid to navigation, bird sanctuary.

Open To Public? No.

Matinicus Rock Light can be viewed from some of the special lighthouse cruises on board the Lively Lady Too out of Camden; see or call (207) 236-6672 for information. Hardy Boat Cruises in New Harbor may also offer occasional puffin watching cruises to Matinicus Rock; call (207) 677-2026 or (800) 2-PUFFIN or email for information.

Mapquest URL: Click here to get a map to this lighthouse!

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Keepers: John A. Shaw (1827-1831, died in service); Phineas Spear (1831-1834, died in service); Abner Knowles (c. 1836); Samuel Abbott (1839-184?); William Young (184?-1853); Samuel Burgess (1853-1861); John H. Grant (1861-1890), William G. Grant, first assistant keeper, then keeper (1875-1900); Isaac Grant (first assistant keeper, 1861-1875); Abbie Burgess Grant (second assistant keeper, 1861-1875); John F. Grant, second assistant keeper (1876-1887); Knott C. Perry, third assistant keeper (1877-1881); Jacob T. Abbott, third assistant keeper (1881-1886); Jarvis H. Grant, second assistant keeper (1887-1888); William F. Stanley, second assistant keeper (1888-1891); Thad Wallace, third assistant keeper (1888-1891); Aldiverd Norton, third assistant keeper (1890-1897); Llewell[yn?] Norwood, third assistant keeper (1891-1895), Fred Hodgkins, third assistant keeper (1892), George A. Lewis, third assistant keeper (1892-1898); James E. Hall, third assistant keeper, later first assistant, then keeper (1896-1908); Merton Tolman, third assistant keeper, later keeper (1900-1911); Charles Burgess, third assistant keeper, later second assistant, then first assistant (1897-1900); Elmer Holbrook, third assistant keeper, later second assistant keeper (1898-1908); Charles Dyer, third assistant keeper, later second assistant, then first assistant, then keeper (1905-1916); Harold Hutchins, third assistant keeper, later second assistant, then first assistant (1909-1912); Arthur Mitchell, third assistant keeper, then second assistant, then keeper (1912-1919); George Studley, third assistant keeper (1912); J. H. Upton, second assistant keeper (1912); Arthur J. Beal (second assistant, then first assistant 1919-1929); Frank O. Hilt (1919-c.1933); Alvah Robinson (assistant ?-1935, keeper 1935-1936); R. W. Powers (c. 1933); Roscoe Fletcher (1936-1945); Joseph Donahue (Coast Guard, c. 1953); Shannon Balke (Coast Guard, 1953); Tom Maddock (Coast Guard, c. 1953); Stanley Hiller (Coast Guard officer in charge c. 1953-?); Richard Moore (Coast Guard, c. 1953); Sheldon Kaminsky (Coast Guard, c. 1968); David Brackett (Coast Guard, c. 1970s); Lee Davis (Coast Guard, c. 1980s); Donald Lecours (Coast Guard, ?-1983); Larry Crete (Coast Guard, 1980-1983)

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