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Mount Desert, Maine – Mount Desert Rock Light

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Champlain named Mount Desert but left its sentinel rock, 26 miles off shore, unidentified. The island was given the name of Mount Desert Dry Rock in the eighteenth century, and shortened somewhat after this. The Mount Desert Rock Light is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 20 miles south of Mount Desert Island at the entrance to the Frenchman and Blue Hill Bays. On March 2, 1829, Congress gave $5,000 for the construction of a lighthouse on Mount Desert Rock; it was officially lit on August 25, 1830. The first Mount Desert Rock Light was a modest, wooden structure; regardless, it survived many storms before being replaced by a more substantial 58-foot granite tower in 1847. The island served as a navigational aid, not a hazard, for coastal seamen. The Mount Desert Rock Light was further altered in 1858 when a new lantern and a third-order Fresnel lens were installed. Jacob L Richardson, 40, his wife Judith, 40, a daughter Sarah, 16, and two minors were living here in 1850. George Booth was in attendance in 1860, with his wife Dorcas J, 33, and four minor daughters who, it was understood, took turns performing the duties of the station. It is no surprise that the highest-paid light keep Downeast was the keeper of Mount Desert Rock, whose surface is only a dozen feet above high water.

This information has been shared with the Lane project by Jeremy D'Entremont. More information can be found at his website, and in The Lighthouse Handbook New England.

Also information contributed by Mark Honey.


McLane, Charles B, and McLane, Carol Evarts, "Islands of the Mid-Maine Coast," Mount Desert to Machias Bay, Volume 2, The Kennebec River club Press, Incorporated, Falmouth, 1989.

Related tables: Mount Desert Island & Rock »

1860 Expense Account 4.4.1860
Samuel Sawyer
Samuel Sawyer Papers
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives
Archive Collection exp020

"Marine View Mt. Desert Light Lane $41.00"

photo (historical)
Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse
National Archives
Photography courtesy of :
photo (historical)
Mt. Desert Rock
N. L. Stebbins

From The Illustrated Coast Pilot with sailing directions. The Coast of New England from New York to Eastport, Maine including Bays and Harbors, published by N. L. Stebbins, Boston, Mass.

Citation: "Historical Materials." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. (accessed July 23, 2024).
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