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Franklin Island Light

Muscongus Bay, Knox Co., Maine (August 2009)

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Local Lighthouses

Muscongus Bay, Maine

The Franklin Island light is the first lighthouse featured in this video I took while traveling Muscongus Bay in southeastern Maine. There has been a lighthouse on this rock since 1807 -- one of the earliest places along the Maine coastline to be lighted -- although this current structure is not the original.


Franklin Island Lighthouse

The Lighthouse on Franklin Island

The current lighthouse dates to 1855 and for many years it was tended by lighthouse keepers. There were several structures originally including the keeper's quarters but all of them were removed in the years after the lighthouse became automated in the 1940's. All that remains is this cylindrical brick tower. The original lens was a fourth order Fresnel lens but that has since been retired and now resides in the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Boothbay Harbor on the mainland a few miles to the west. The focal plane of the tower is 57 feet. While the Coast Guard owns the lighthouse and continues to use it as an active aid to navigation, it is maintained by a nonprofit organization called Franklin Light Preservation, Inc.


Franklin Island

Franklin Island from a Distance

Visitors cannot get close to the Franklin Island Light without a boat. It sites on the rocky ledge of a twelve acre island six miles out to sea. On the surface it might seem like a lonely station but there were plenty of populated places just beyond its shores. The beauty of this spot would have been exceptional, set amid the forested islets of Muscongus Bay. In an era when boats serves as a primary means of travel, the lighthouse would have had lots of company and easy access to the shore providing the weather cooperated. It probably would have been a pretty nice place to be stationed.


Harbor Seals

Harbor Seals Lounging on a Shoal

This Treacherous shoal barely pokes above the waves just south of the Franklin Island Light. Muscongus Bay is full of similar hazards and that's the reason why Franklin Island was an early priority for a lighthouse. This was further punctuated by the burgeoning trade that developed along this section of coastline in the early days of the United States.

On a clear day such as the afternoon we sailed among the rocks a lighthouse hardly seems necessary, but that's not always the case. The weather here can turn pretty nasty.

Readers who have an interest in lighthouses might also want to check my Lighthouse Index page.