Chris J LeBlanc Photography - Lighthouses
Providing details and historical information of  lighthouse pictures taken during my travels
Bear Island Lighthouse
Northeast Harbor, Maine
       © 2011 - Chris J LeBlanc  Photographer
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Location:   Located on Bear Island.
Latitude:  N 44.2835
Longitude:  W 68.2699

Year Constructed:  1889 (station established 1839). Reactivated (inactive 1982-1989)
Tower Height:  31 feet    Focal Plane:  100 feet

Round cylindrical brick tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white, lantern black.
Historical Information:

  • Station Established: 1839
  • First Lit: Oct. 1889
  • Operational: Yes
  • Deactivated: 1981-1989
  • Foundation Material: Granite Rubble
  • Construction Material: Brick
  • Tower Shape: Cylindrical attached to a work room
  • Markings: White with Black Lantern
  • Original Lens: Fifth Order Frensel Lens
  • Tower Height: 31 feet
  • Characteristics: White Flash every 5 seconds.
  • Current Use: Private Aid to Navigation

  • In 1838 President Martin Van Buren authorized the building of a lighthouse at the southeast point of the island to help mariners entering Northeast Harbor and Somes Sound.
  • William Moore sold 2 areas of his land to the government. The lighthouse was finished in 1839 for $3,000.
  • This light was always a family station with a single keeper. The first lighthouse took the form of a stone keepers house with a small lighthouse tower on top. This structure burned down in 1852.
  • In 1853 a new brick tower was built at the end of the dwelling.
  • In 1856 a Fifth Order Frensel Lens was installed.
  • In 1888 a 1000 lb fog bell and striking apparatus were installed.
  • In 1889-1890 the present 31’ brick house was built. The frensel lens was moved to the new tower.
  • In the 1980’s Bear Island Light was discontinued. It was replaced by and off shore lighted bell buoy.
  • The property became part of Arcadia National Park in 1987. Through most of the 1980’s the property fell into disrepair.
  • In 1989 the friends of Arcadia refurbished the keepers house.
  • The tower was relight as a private aid to navigation.
The building of a lighthouse on the island started in July 1838, and the station went into service in 1839.

The first lighthouse building took the form of a wooden tower on the southern end of the roof of a small rubblestone dwelling; its seven lamps and 13-inch reflectors in an octagonal wrought-iron lantern showed a fixed white light 98 feet above mean high water. A 10-foot-wide embankment of logs and gravel was formed to the west of the lighthouse for protection.

A fire did great damage to the lighthouse building in 1852, and the 1854 annual report of the lighthouse board announced that the station had been rebuilt. The new lighthouse consisted of a round brick tower at one end of the dwelling. It seems likely that much of the original dwelling was salvaged during the 1853 rebuilding.

A fifth-order Fresnel lens was installed in 1856. In 1888, a 1,000-pound fog bell and striking apparatus were installed. Also in 1888, the dwelling was reported to be quite dilapidated.  The present 31-foot brick lighthouse was built in 1889–90, as were a new one-and-one-half-story, wood-frame keeper’s house and a barn.

In the early 1980s, Bear Island Light was discontinued and replaced by an offshore lighted bell buoy.  The property became part of Acadia National Park in 1987.
Historic Postcard of Bear Island Lighthouse from 1922