New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide
Crabtree Ledge Light
Near Hancock, Maine
Crabtree Ledge Light main page / History / Bibliography / Postcards

History

Congress appropriated $25,000 in 1886 for a lighthouse to mark dangerous Crabtree Ledge, a mile off Hancock Point in Frenchman Bay. An additional $13,000 was appropriated in 1888 and work began in 1889.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Library

The lighthouse helped guide many vessels carrying lumber and granite into the Taunton River, as well as passenger steamers heading to and from the railroad terminus at Hancock Point.

The contractor that built the lighthouse was Sooey, Smith and Co. of New York City. According to the Historical Society of the Town of Hancock, many local laborers were employed for the project.

The lighthouse's foundation, a circular iron caisson, was filled with concrete. The cast-iron tower was 37 feet high from its base to the focal plane. It was originally painted brown but was changed to white in 1903.

Crabtree Ledge Light was first lighted on January 15, 1890. It was a typical "sparkplug" style cast-iron lighthouse of the period and had a fifth-order Fresnel lens exhibiting a fixed white light varied by a flash every two minutes.

U.S. Coast Guard Photo

A 1,200-pound bell and striking machinery were installed on the pier in 1891.

The lighthouse's first keeper was Charles Chester, a native of Philadelphia who had been a cabin boy at 11 and a ship's captain at 19. He and his wife, Mary, (Blake) eventually had 11 children.

The steamer Sebanoa smashed into the lighthouse on November 18, 1898. The vessel subsequently went aground at Hancock Point.

Chester Brinkworth served as an assistant keeper beginning in 1914. In the fall of 1916, Chester's younger brother, Leon, filled in as a temporary assistant while principal keeper Jerome Peaseley was away recovering from an illness. In late September, 18-year-old Leon Brinkworth returned from a trip to shore. As he climbed the ladder on the side of the lighthouse, he slipped and plunged into the water. Chester, 35 years old, quickly dove into the water in a valiant but vain attempt to save his brother. Both of the Brinkworth brothers drowned in the lighthouse's worst tragedy.

The lighthouse was discontinued in 1933, the same year local ferry service ended. The lighthouse was subsequently bought by the father of Newbold Noyes, editor of theWashington Star, for a reported $115.

Noyes gave the lighthouse to his three sons as a gift. The sons sold the lighthouse in 1937 to a friend, Fritz Allis, who summered at Hancock Point. He and some friends moved a reed organ into the lighthouse. When he married Tiense Gummere, the two spent their honeymoon at the lighthouse and ended up being marooned there for several days during stormy weather. He never returned after that, and the lighthouse fell into poor conditon until it finally collapsed into the bay in a winter storm in 1950.

Some of the metal from the tower was salvaged for use in World War II, but it's said that much of the structure still lies in one piece.


Keepers: Charles Chester (1890-1908); Charles W. Thurston (assistant, 1902-1909); Joseph M. Gray (assistant, 1898-1900); Amaziah Small (?); Edward Small (?); Alton Triveau (?); Jerome H. Peasely (c. 1916); Chester Brinkworth (assistant, 1914-1916); Leon Brinkworth (assistant, c. 1916); Captain Joseph Whitmore (assistant, ?-1917); Ora Jordan (?); ? Bulgar (?), Vassar Lee Quimby (1926-?); . (If you have more information on these keepers or their dates of service please let me know at keeper@lighthouse.cc)
Last updated 7/15/08
Jeremy D'Entremont. Do not reproduce any images or text from this website without permission of the author.

Crabtree Ledge Light main page / History / Bibliography / Postcards
Maine Menu / New England Menu / Back to Contents