West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

By: the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Conical and cylindrical lighthouses, such as the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, are among the most common along the eastern coast. See more pictures of lighthouses.
©2007 Terry Ross

The West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in extreme northeastern Maine is to the northern Atlantic seaboard what the Admiralty Head Lighthouse in extreme northwestern Washington is to the northern Pacific seaboard -- the most remote station on the wildest outskirts of that coast.

Established in 1808, the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse is one of the nation's oldest and most revered lighthouses. For nearly two centuries it has lit the often stormy channel between the United States and Canada.


The West Quoddy Head Lighthouse is located on a point of land known as West Quoddy Head, just across the long blue-gray channel from the southern shores of the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

The original West Quoddy Lighthouse, built of local stone, was dismantled in 1857 and replaced the following year with a 45-foot brick tower. At the same time, it was outfitted with a Fresnel lens. With its distinctive red and white markings, the tower stands out on the headlands.

Its pulsing light can be seen every 15 seconds for about 15 miles on a clear day. The station is also equipped with a resonant foghorn, although this was not present from the beginning. Earlier fog signaling devices included an enormous bell, a steam whistle, and a sea cannon.

An important historical feature of the light at West Quoddy Head is the bell, which was America's first fog bell.

The heavily wooded atmosphere around West Quoddy is reminiscent of the Canadian far north, rather than its American New England location. Although West Quoddy Head Lighthouse is remote, it is easily visited, as it is part of its own state park.

The park offers nature trails, panoramic views of the channel, and the opportunity -- always tempting -- to photograph or paint the beautiful light­house. For those who come near dusk, beware: Legend has it that the lighthouse is haunted.

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