Halfway Rock Lighthouse Available for Free

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Picture of Halfway Rock Lighthouse in Casco Bay, Maine

Halfway Rock Lighthouse in Casco Bay, Maine (U.S. Coast Guard)

The Kennebec Journal is reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard is trying to give away the Halfway Rock Lighthouse for free:

The U.S. Coast Guard is trying to give away a remote Maine lighthouse, but is having trouble attracting local takers.

The Halfway Rock Light Station is 4.5 miles off the coast of Bailey Island between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Small. The 77-foot lighthouse built in 1871 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

The Coast Guard wants another federal agency, state or local government, nonprofit, educational agency or community development organization to take over the building.

Two of the closest qualifying entities, the town of Harpswell and the Harpswell Historical Society, have little interest.

Here is some historical information about Halfway Rock Lighthouse from the U.S. Coast Guard:

  • About 10 miles east of Portland Head in the Casco Bay is a rocky island called Halfway Island. It is halfway between Cape Elisabeth and Cape Small. Since the waters are treacherous in this area, a light station was established on this island.
  • Since the island is subject to harsh storms, building the station took two years to complete. Finally in 1871 the 76-foot granite tower was lit with a third order Fresnel lens.
  • The granite blocks in the tower were dovetailed together so the tower resembles Minot’s Ledge in Massachusetts. Also like Minot’s Ledge, the keeper’s lived inside the tower. The cramped quarters and small, rocky island did not make for easy living conditions.
  • In 1887, a skeletal fog bell was bolted to the rock near the tower. A raised walkway was installed between the two. The island is subject to fierce storms. Shortly after the bell was installed, it survived a storm that buried the island with eight feet of water. Even though the structure survived the storm, the bell wasn’t enough for mariners during bad weather. It was replaced with a Daboll trumpet operated by diesel engines.
  • In 1888 a bathhouse was built with a second story for living quarters. This relieved some of the stress of living in the tower. However, during storms the tower was the only place to be.
  • The light was automated in 1975. The third order lens was removed and replaced by a modern optic. The lens was sent to the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
  • Today the tower still stands on the island as an active aid to navigation. It stands alone as storms have destroyed all other structures on the island. Most recently in 1991 the “perfect” storm in October washed away the Marine Railway.
  • In May 2000 the American Lighthouse Foundation was granted the license to care for the tower.

For more historical information, see Wikipedia and New England Lighthouses.

If there are no qualified takers, the Halfway Rock Lighthouse will be put to auction. If you can’t wait until then, you can make an offer on the Moose Peak Light Station on Mistake Island in Washington County, Maine.

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