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New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide
Blue Hill Bay Light
Near Brooklin, Maine
Blue Hill Bay Light main page / History / Bibliography / Cruises and tours / Photos / Postcards

History

Green Island is near the town of Brooklin, Maine, west of Mount Desert Island, at the western edge of Blue Hill Bay. The low-lying island is about three-quarters of an acre at high tide and about three times that size at low tide. The island is one of a group of four islands called the Fly, or Flye, Islands after an early owner.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the town of Ellsworth, on the Union River north of Blue Hill Bay, was a thriving lumber port, and a lighthouse was needed to guide mariners into the southern entrance to the bay. Abraham Flye sold Green Island to the federal government for a light station in 1855 for $150, and the light was established on the west side of the island in 1857. The lighthouse also helped guide mariners into the eastern end of Eggemoggin Reach, which connects Penobscot Bay with Blue Hill Bay.

old photo of lighthouse from the water
From the collection of Edward Rowe Snow, courtesy of Dorothy Bicknell

The lighthouse was often called Eggemoggin Light. A fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed in the tower, exhibiting a fixed white light. Beginning in 1900, a fog bell in a bell towerwith automatic striking machinerywas in operation.

aerial photo of lighthouse
Circa 1972

The lighthouse was connected by a brick passageway to a wood-frame 1 1/2-story Colonial Cape keeper's house. A barn, boathouse, and outhouse were also built; an oil house was added in 1905. A 1050-gallon cistern collected rainwater in the basement of the house, providing fresh water for the keeper and his family.

old photo of lighthouse with people in dory passing
 From the collection of Edward Rowe Snow, courtesy of Dorothy Bicknell

In the 1890s, the five children of Keeper Roscoe Lopaus were schooled by a teacher who boarded on the island.

Keepers at the station augmented their food supplies by fishing and hunting in the area. On a summer camping trip in the 1920s, Keeper Roscoe Chandler and his family caught almost 300 pounds of cod, hake and cusk nearby. Duck and lobster were also staples.

Keeper Chandler also owned a farm in Monroe, Maine. Two of his children, Catherine and Everett, lived at the farm while attending high school in Monroe. In their early teens, they obtained a cow and walked her from Monroe all the way to the light station. Along the way, they stopped at a farm each day and swapped the cow's milk for lodging and a meal.

Mary and Roscoe Chandler
Roscoe Chandler and his wife Mary at their 50th wedding anniversary in 1961. Courtesy of Joseph G. Kelley.

Eventually, two cows were pastured on Flye Island to provide milk for the Chandlers. According to his grandson, Joseph G. Kelley, the cows were particularly important because Keeper Chandler had ulcers and needed a good supply of milk.

Lacking a telephone, the families at Green Island devised unique modes of communication. In the 1920s, when Keeper Chandler was needed on shore, a woman across on the mainland would hang a black suit outside her house as a signal.

The lighthouse was discontinued in 1933. It was replaced by an automatic light on a skeleton tower. The automatic light, now solar powered, remains in use.

In 1976, Blue Hill Bay Lighthouse was purchased by Wilbur and Edith Trapp of New Jersey. The Trapps had the house and other buildings (even the outhouse is still standing) beautifully restored. More recently, the property was bought by Jim and Alice Ann Madix.

From the keeper's house on Green Island there is a spectacular 360-degree view of Blue Hill Bay, Mount Desert Island, Eggemoggin Reach, and Deer Isle.

The best views of Blue Hill Bay Light are from the water. The Maine Environmental Research Institute offers a variety of cruises from Town Dock on Naskeag Point in Brooklin. All the cruises sometimes pass the lighthouse, and the Ecocruise almost always does.


Keepers: Adelbert G. Webster (1877-1882); Howard P. Robbins (1882-1888); Roscoe G. Lopaus (1889-1895); Levi L. Farnham (1895-1900); Edwin K. Tapley (1900-1913), Roscoe Chandler (c. 1920s), Justin A. Foss (c. early 1930s)

  Jeremy D'Entremont. Do not reproduce any images or text from this website without permission of the author.

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