Monhegan Island Light
Monhegan Island Light
Monhegan Island, ME
Year Light First Lit:
Yes, active aid to navigation
Tower Height: 47 feet
VEGA VRB-25, Solar Powered
Accessible by boat & boat ferry; can also be viewed by boat/boat tour
Open to public:
Yes, open to public
Monhegan Island Light - with a light beam range of 20 nautical miles, it is the second-highest light in Maine
Monhegan Island Light (+43° 45' 54.00", -69° 18' 54.00") is an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation marking the southern approach to Muscongus Bay. Monhegan Island is located about 10 miles southwest of Port Clyde. For many mariners arriving from across the pond, Monhegan is the first sighting of land.
The lighthouse shows a flashing white light every 15 seconds with a range of 20 nautical miles. It is a cylindrical tower built of granite blocks and is the second-highest light in Maine (after Seguin Light).
In 1822, President James Monroe authorized the building of Monhegan Island Light and a keeper’s dwelling on one of the island’s highest points for $3,000. The light was lit two years later. That first lighthouse was a 30-foot conical stone tower.
The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1850, resulting in the 48-foot granite landmark that still stands today.
In 1855, a fog bell station was established just west of Monhegan, at Manana Island. In 1870, the original 2,500-pound bell was replaced by a Daboll trumpet, which was replaced in 1872 by a steam whistle. In 1877, a new Daboll trumpet was installed at Manana Island. During those days, the keeper at Monhegan could push a button that would sound a gong in the bedroom of the keeper at Manana, who would have to get up and start the fog signal. The existing station at Manana was built in 1889.
In 1856, Monhegan’s original 10 lamps and reflectors were replaced by a second-order Fresnel lens. In 1861, Keeper Joseph F. Humphrey left his post to go fight in the Civil War and took his 2 sons with him, leaving his wife, Betsy Morrow Humphrey behind to tend the light and her other 8 children. Joseph died that year and Betsy became the official keeper. In 1864, she received word that her 17-year-old son had also been killed. Her other son returned home disabled. Betsy Morrow Humphrey remained the light keeper until 1880.
In 1959, the lighthouse became automated and was powered by a generator at Manana. Monhegan Island Light is now powered by solar panels.
In 1968, a museum was opened in the 1874 keeper’s dwelling. The Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum is now open through most of the summer. The Museum exhibits artifacts relevant to the natural, industrial, cultural, artistic, and social history of Monhegan. An 1855 fog bell that was used at Manana is on display outside of the Museum. The bell was the subject of Jamie Wyeth’s painting, “Bronze Age.”
In 1985, the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum Association took over ownership of the entire property, except for the lighthouse. Then, in 1998, thanks to the Maine Lights Program, the lighthouse too became the property of the association.
Monhegan Island can be reached by ferry from Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor, or Port Clyde. Monhegan Island Light is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We would like to thank Mike Waller for granting us permission to use his images of Monhegan Island Light. You can view more images of Monhegan Island Light and other Maine Lighthouses by visitng Mike's Flickr page.