Bar Harbor Lighthouse Tours

From June 2006 through October 2012, including just over 600 tours for just over 43,000 people, I worked as the primary guide for the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company’s first tour that, instead of nature — whales or seals or puffins — dealt specifically with humans. Along the route I talked about various subjects — whatever I wanted to, really, or whatever the crowd was interested in — especially about the role of fishing/ lobstering in the history of the Gulf of Maine, the creation of Acadia National Park, the brave men of the U.S. Life Saving Service, and the keepers who manned lighthouses in the Mount Desert Island area from 1828 to 1976.

[The three most popular questions on the Lighthouse Tour: “Where’s the best seat?”, “Where is Thunder Hole?”, and “Doesn’t Martha Stewart live somewhere around here?” Answers: “Front of the boat, right (starboard) side, lower deck” (which everyone ignores as they head for the boxed-in top deck), “Just past Sand Beach; we’ll be there in about 10 minutes,” and “Yes. We’ll go right past her house a little later in the tour. And by the way, she told me to tell you all to come by afterwards for tea.”]

The company’s Historic Lighthouse Tour, after cruising the shoreline of Acadia, visits, in order, the Bear Island light, the Great Duck Island light, Baker Island light, the Life-Saving Station that operated from 1880 to 1946 on Little Cranberry Island, the Winter Harbor (also called Mark Island) light, and Egg Rock light. Sometimes, if weather or waves prevent us from going far offshore to Great Duck Island, we substitute the famous lighthouse at Bass Harbor Head.

* * *

In the fall of 2008, just to try something different, we briefly ran a Downeast Lights Tour, which headed east from Bar Harbor instead of to the west. This included, in order, Egg Rock light, Petit Manan light, Nash Island light, Pond Island (also called Narraguagus) light, Prospect Harbor light, and the Winter Harbor (Mark Island) light.

The tours (now without me) run from late May through late October. Some photos from them can be seen here, and information about some of the lights on the tour appears below:

Bear Island Light
original light on this spot: 1839
this light constructed, at a cost of: 1889, $3,000
(deactivated from 1981 — 1989)
lighthouse automated: 1989
height of tower (feet), also height above the water: 31, 100
color, frequency of light, original Fresnel lens: white, 5 seconds, 5th order
light can be seen at a distance of: 10 miles
size of the island: 20 acres
island: part of Acadia National Park; the lighthouse is a private summer home

Great Duck Island Light
this is the original light on this spot: 1890, $30,000
lighthouse automated: 1986
height of tower (feet), also height above the water: 42, 67
color, frequency of light, original Fresnel lens: red, 5 seconds, 5th order
light can be seen at a distance of: 19 miles
size of the island: 237 acres
island: owned by the Nature Conservancy, the State of Maine, College of the Atlantic, and a 5-acre
private parcel on the NE tip

Bass Harbor Head Light
original light on this spot: 1858, $5,000
lighthouse automated: 1974
height of tower (feet), also height above the water: 32, 56
color, frequency of light, original Fresnel lens: red, occulting 4 seconds, 5th order
light can be seen at a distance of: 13 miles
land: part of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, house is U.S. Coast Guard housing]

Baker Island Light
original light on this spot: 1828
this light constructed, at a cost of: 1855
(deactivated from 1955 — 1957)
lighthouse automated: 1957
height of tower (feet), also height above the water: 43, 105
color, frequency of light, original Fresnel lens: white, 10 seconds, 4th order
light can be seen at a distance of: 10 miles
size of the island: 120 acres
island: part of Acadia National Park

Mark Island Light
this is the original light on this spot: 1857, $4,000
lighthouse turned off in: 1933 (replaced by lighted buoy in channel)
height of tower (feet), also height above the water: 19, 37
original Fresnel lens: 5th order
size of the island: 4 acres
island: privately owned
also called the Winter Harbor Light, after the nearby mainland town

Egg Rock Light
this is the original light on this spot: 1875 (upgraded 1902), $15,000
lighthouse automated: 1976
height of tower (feet), also height above the water: 40, 64
color, frequency of light, original Fresnel lens: red, 5 seconds, 5th order
light can be seen at a distance of: 18 miles
size of the island: 12.5 acres
island: administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as part of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge

updated July 15, 2013

One Response to Bar Harbor Lighthouse Tours

  1. Jenny says:

    Excellent blog…love the information! I have a similar blog with great things to do in Bar Harbor: http://blog.reserve123.com/2008/10/your-maine-destination/

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