Matinicus Rock Light
Matinicus Rock Light
Year Light First Lit:
Yes, active aid to navigation
Tower Height: 48 feet
VEGA VRB-25 Solar Powered
Viewed by boat/boat charter
Open to public:
No, closed to public
Matinicus Rock Light - located on a 32-acre granite island in Penobscot Bay about 5 miles south of Matinicus Island
Matinicus Rock Light (+43° 47' 00", -68° 51' 18") is located in Penobscot Bay about 5 miles south of Matinicus Island, on Matinicus Rock, a 32-acre granite island located 18 miles off the mainland. It is an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation with a characteristic of a flashing white light every 10 seconds. Fog signal is 1 blast every 15 seconds.
In 1827, President John Quincy Adams authorized the building of two lighthouses on Matinicus Rock. The first lighthouse was a stone dwelling featuring a wooden tower on each end. Each of the towers showed a fixed white light. A massive storm put both lights out of operation in the winter of 1839, but the station was soon repaired. Another storm in 1842 again challenged the integrity of the structure, and again, the damage was significant.
In 1846, a new granite dwelling was erected. In 1848, new granite lighthouse towers were built. The old towers were demolished, but the original dwelling stayed on as a storage building.
In 1856, a 2,000-pound fog bell was added. The bell is now part of the collection at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland. A new bell tower with striking machinery was built in 1867. In 1869, one of the very first steam-powered fog whistles was installed.
In 1857, yet another new pair of granite towers was erected. These lanterns held third-order Fresnel lenses. Also, in 1857, an addition was built onto the keeper’s dwelling.
The north light was extinguished in 1883, and the south tower light was changed from a fixed white to a fixed red. Mariners complained, and the north light was relit five years later. Both lights were changed back to a fixed white.
The north light was extinguished again, this time for good, in 1923, when the government transitioned all twin light stations to single lights. The lantern from the north tower was installed at Poe Reef Light in Michigan. The third-order Fresnel lens from the south tower is now on display at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland.
Yet another major storm wreaked havoc in 1933, filling the dwelling with water and debris. When another storm caused significant damage in 1950, the Coast Guard removed most of the outbuildings. Today, all that remains is the keeper’s house, the 1890 oil house, and the two towers. In 1983, the south light became fully automated. Solar panels were installed in 2007.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now owns the lighthouse, thanks to the Maine Lights Program. Matinicus Rock is part of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The island is a bird sanctuary supervised by The National Audobon Society. Matinicus Rock is the southernmost nesting site for the Atlantic Puffin and is home to other seabirds as well. Puffin watches offer sightseers great views of Matinicus Rock Light.
Matinicus Rock Light is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We would like to thank Jason Sears for granting us permission to use his images of Matinicus Rock Light. You can view more images of Matinicus Rock Light and Matinicus Rock by visitng Jason's Flickr page.