Curtis Island Light
Curtis Island Light
Year Light First Lit:
Yes, active aid to navigation
Tower Height: 25 feet
300 MM, Solar Powered
Best viewed by boat tour; can also be viewed from Camden waterfront.
Open to public:
No, closed to public
Curtis Island Light - located at the entrance of Camden Harbor, its beam can shine with a range of 6 nautical miles
Curtis Island Light (+44° 12' 6.00", -69° 2' 54.00") is located at the entrance to Camden Harbor, at the southeastern end of Curtis Island. It is an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation and is now owned by the Town of Camden. Its characteristic is occulting green, 4 seconds (4 seconds of green followed by 1 second of darkness). The lighthouse is a 25-foot tall, white, cylindrical brick tower with a range of 6 nautical miles. The station does not have a fog signal.
The first brick lighthouse on Curtis Island was built in 1835 by George Galt of Massachusetts, by order of President Andrew Jackson. It cost $4,500. Back then, the five-acre island was called Negro Island, presumably after an African cook who lived there. The island was renamed “Curtis Island” in 1934, in honor of Cyrus H.K. Curtis, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post. Curtis was a longtime summer resident of Camden, and gave the town the land and building that is now the Camden Yacht Club.
The first keeper was Henry K.M. Bower and many keepers have succeeded him. A fog bell in the public parking lot of Camden Harbor reads, “Dedicated to the keepers of the Curtis Island Light, 1836 to the present.”.
In 1889, the dwelling was rebuilt and a barn and boathouse were added. In 1895, an oil house was added. All of these buildings remain today. The present lighthouse tower was built in 1896. A fourth-order Fresnel was installed.
The lighthouse was automated in 1972. Keepers were removed and the Fresnel lens was replaced by a modern optic. The Fresnel lens is now on display at the Camden town office on Elm Street. The light is now solar-powered.
Curtis Island Light received some press in 1993, when one of the lighthouse’s caretakers, Dee Dee Conover, saw what she thought was a sick dolphin come ashore. The animal soon perished, and an autopsy revealed that the animal was actually a 13-foot, young beaked whale. Only 16 beaked whales have ever been found in North America and only 6 have been found in Europe. There has never been a confirmed sighting at sea.
In 1997, citizens of Camden voted to assume ownership of Curtis Island Light and the lighthouse officially became the property of the town in 1998. Curtis Island is a public park but is only accessible by boat. The lighthouse is not open to the public. It is best viewed from the water, but views are possible by taking Bay View Street in downtown Camden. Several cruises out of Camden pass by the light. A distant, but breathtaking view of the lighthouse and island is also possible by driving or hiking to the top of Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park. Curtis Island Light is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We would like to thank Robert English for granting us permission to use his images of Curtis Island Light. You can view more images of Curtis Island Light and Maine Lighthouses by visitng Robert's Flickr page.