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Historical Materials: Maine Locales & Buildings
Owls Head is a peninsula that extends into West Penobscot Bay south of Rockland. Owls Head Light also marks the point where the Muscle Ridge Channel opens into West Penobscot Bay. (Muscle may have originally been Mussle).
Owls Head Light guides mariners into the port of Rockland and her ravenous lime kilns. By 1835, some 150 kilns were producing three quarters of 1 million casks of line annually. Several hundred vessels brought in fuel for the kilns which burned 30 cord at a time. Thomaston, Rockland, Rockport, and Camden had 75 kilns being fired every two weeks for 9–10 months a year. These kilns required at least 20,000 cord of wood per year. The lime was shipped in barrels, providing a market for small cooperages and sawmills throughout Penobscot Bay. Rockland was renowned for its shipbuilding, was invested in the cod fisheries, and served as a crucial link in the growing chain of steamship lines which were being developed in the 1850s. There were established commercial and economic ties with the Fox Islands, and coasters from throughout Downeast Maine and the Maritimes found markets at Rockland.
Monroe Island, off Owls Head, has been a landmark for navigators from the age of Champlain, and the lee has provided shelter for mariners throughout the ages, "Owls Head Harbor may well have been the most frequented transient anchorage in the entire Penobscot region until well into the 19th century." "Five Hundred sail have been passing Owl's Head in one day," a mariner writes in the 1850s." Among the many legends of Owls Head was the scalping of 2 Indians by colonial forces led by Capt. Joseph Fox in 1757.
– Mark Honey
Bill Caldwell, Lighthouses of Maine (Portland, ME: Gannett Books, 1986).
Roger F. Duncan, Coastal Maine: A Maritime History (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1992).
Charles B. McLane, and Carol Evarts McLane, Islands of the Mid-Maine Coast: Penobscot Bay, vol. 1, rev. ed. (Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House Publishers; in association with the Island Institute, Rockland, ME),120–22.
William Hutchinson Rowe, The Maritime History of Maine: Three Centuries of Shipbuilding & Seafaring (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1948).
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.
Thanks for "View of Owl's Head", a moonlight scene: "Mr. Lane, Dear Sir, when I expressed to you, during your visit to us, the last summer, my admiration of moonlight scenes, I did not for a moment suppose that I should ever become the possessor of one, and that so beautiful as "The View of Owls Head," which you have so kindly, and in so delicate a manner presented to me, and for which, I now beg you to accept my heartfelt thanks, also, be assured, if your pleasure in giving has been half equal to mine in receiving, you have been amply repaid for your kindness, and I alone, am the debtor. . . ."