Chris J LeBlanc Photography - Lighthouses
Providing details and historical information of  lighthouse pictures taken during my travels
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Mount Desert Island, Maine
       © 2011 - Chris J LeBlanc  Photographer
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Location:  Located south of Bass Harbor
Latitude:  N 44.22201
Longitude:  W 68.33725

Year Constructed:  1858. Active day and night
Tower Height:  32 feet    Focal Plane:  56 feet

Round cylindrical brick tower with lantern and gallery; 4th order Henry Lepaute Fresnel lens (1902). Tower painted white, lantern black. The 1-1/2 story wood keeper's house is in use as Coast Guard housing. Square pyramidal brick bell tower (1898), bell removed. Brick oil house (1902).
Historical Information:

  • Station Established: 1858
  • Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1858
  • Operational? YES
  • Automated? 1974
  • Foundation Materials: STONE
  • Construction Materials: BRICK
  • Tower Shape: CYLINDRICAL
  • Markings/Pattern: WHITE WITH BLACK LANTERN
  • Original Lens: FIFTH ORDER FRESNEL

  • In 1858 a 32-foot brick lighthouse was built on Mount Desert Island to mark the entrance to Bass Head Harbor and Blue Hill Harbor. The lighthouse was connected to the Keeper’s house by a covered walkway. The Keeper’s quarters is a 1 1/2 story wood framed house.
  • In 1876 a bell tower and bell were installed. They were later removed. In 1898 a 4,000 pound bell replaced the original one.
  • The light is perched on a cliff. There was no boat landing at the site until 1894.
  • A brick oil house was built in 1902 some 205 feet northwest of the lighthouse. It still remains at the site.
  • Also in 1902 a fourth order Fresnel lens replaced the original fifth order lens. The fourth order lens is still used in the light today.
  • While the light is on a national park, the Coast Guard uses it as a residence. The grounds are open to the public but the house is not. The light is an active aid to navigation.
On September 1, 1858, John Thurston climbed the stairs in the tower, lighted the lamp in the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse for the first time, and the beacon began guiding mariners into Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay.  Originally outfitted with a fifth-order Fresnel lens, the lighthouse was upgraded in 1902 to a fourth-order lens. A red chimney was placed over the lamp inside the lens to produce a colored light that was visible for thirteen nautical miles.

The original keeper’s dwelling was a 40 x 20 wooden structure connected to the tower by a covered 21-foot wooden walkway. The residence had two stories with five rooms, consisting of a kitchen, living room, and dining room on the ground floor, with two bedrooms upstairs. There was an outhouse about 50 feet away from the structure. In 1893, a boathouse with a 100-foot railway was added. A tall, pyramidal bell tower was added to the station in 1876, and then in 1897 a brick fog signal building was erected a few yards closer to the rocky cliff. A 4,000-pound fog bell was suspended outside the fog signal building. This mighty bronze bell was later replaced by an 1,800 pound version, and then in 1949, a 1,500 pound bell was mounted on a stand near the tower and electrified. A brick oil house was added in 1902, and the barn in 1905.  The lighthouse was automated in 1974 and remains an active aid to navigation.
Historic Postcard of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse