the late 1800s, Lubec, the most northeasterly town in the United
States, was an important trade and fishing port. The town later became
a center of the sardine industry; it was home to 20 packing plants.
slender channel called Lubec Narrows, between Lubec and Campobello
Island, New Brunswick, was dredged in the early 1880s. The Lighthouse
Board urged the funding of a lighthouse at the entrance to Lubec
Narrows, which would make the channel “of value to commerce at night.”
Congress appropriated $40,000 for a lighthouse in the summer of 1886.
to the lighthouse site was secured from the State of Maine, and borings
were made in 1887 into the “tough blue clay” at the shoal. As the
project progressed, it became apparent that additional funds were
needed. Congress appropriated $12,000 more in 1888, and during
the following year three contracts were made: one for the metalwork
from Detroit, Michigan, one for Portland cement from Boston, and one
for the construction of the lighthouse.
U.S. Coast Guard Academy Library
The 1890 annual report of the Lighthouse Board provides
a detailed description of the lighthouse and its construction in 1889:
lighthouse which is now being built is to consist of a cylindrical iron
caisson, 33 feet in diameter and 48 feet high, cast in eight sections
of thirty-two plates each . . . to be sunk 6 feet into the site (11
feet below extreme low and 36 feet below extreme high water), filled
with concrete, and surmounted by an iron tower, 37 feet in height from
base to focal plane. . . . Advantage was taken of the great range, 17
to 21 feet, of the tides to erect the two lower sections of the caisson
on the mud flats in the vicinity, whence they were very readily
floated, by temporary caisson, to the site, and there sunk. After
carrying up the caisson to the height of 36 feet, by the addition of
four more sections, it was pumped out and sunk by excavation to the
depth of four feet, when an irruption of water through the subsoil, on
August 29, 1889, within the caisson, interrupted the work and made
necessary a sub-foundation of piles.
|Work resumed the following April and the subfoundation
was completed in
June. It consisted of 185 spruce piles driven within the cylinder.
Twenty-three of the piles, forming a ring around the perimeter of the
cylinder, were driven to a depth of 69 feet, and the 162 interior piles
were driven 35 to 45 feet into the bottom. The cylinder was sunk to a
depth of six feet and leveled, and then filled with concrete.
After a final appropriation of $15,500, work was completed by the end
of 1890. The lighthouse superstructure was completed by November 5, and
a fifth-order Fresnel lens was installed in the lantern. A 1,200-pound
fog bell, struck by machinery, was also installed.
The station went
into operation on December 31, 1890, with a white flash every 15
seconds shown from 61 feet above sea level. The tower was painted brown
until 1903, when it was changed to white.
Lubec Channel Light was a "stag" station staffed by two male keepers.
The first principal keeper
was Frederick W. Morong and the assistant was Loring W. Myers.
Frederick W. Morong
Courtesy of Maine Lighthouse Museum
There were once miniature brass lighthouses on each baluster
on the lighthouse's gallery. These rare decorations have been removed.
The tower contained five levels, two of which were living quarters for
the keepers. The lower deck was a combination living room and kitchen.
The next deck was a bedroom.
Loring W. Meyers
|Loring W. Myers, formerly a steamboat captain, advanced
keeper in 1898 and was in charge until 1923. Before he became a
lighthouse keeper, Myers had lost his first wife and three children to
illness. He later remarried. Myers moonlighted as an entrepreneur and
inventor; he dabbled in real estate and owned a sardine packing plant.
In 1904, he was credited with the invention of a new type of lifeboat,
described as “buoyant as a cork” and watertight. The craft, 16 feet
long and 7 feet wide, was constructed of oak planks covered with
galvanized steel inside and out. Loaded with 15 men, the boat was only
two or three inches lower in the water than when it was empty.
invention was roundly praised, but it never made Myers any money, as
steamship lines preferred to keep using less expensive, and less safe,
the spring of 1899, the assistant keeper, Herbert Robinson, had to
spend an extended period on the mainland, through the sickness and
eventual death of his son. During some of this time, Myers’s wife,
Abbie, served as the assistant—the only woman keeper in the station’s
Myers was credited with many lives saved during his long
career. Once, a group of young women was passing by in a motor vessel
when the boat caught fire. Myers rushed to the scene and rescued all
the women, who were described as hysterical. On another occasion, the
keeper saved two men whose boat had capsized near the shore of
Campobello. The men were clinging to fishing weir stakes when Myers
|Elson Small, who went on to a 28-year career at several
became the assistant keeper in November 1920, weeks before he married
Loring Myers’s niece, Constance “Connie” Scovill. Myers and Small
alternated two-day stays at the lighthouse.
When 19-year-old Connie went with her husband to visit the lighthouse
for the first time, she was intimidated by the idea of climbing the
30-foot ladder. In her book, The
Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife, she later
I had been afraid of
boats and the sea since a
cousin teasingly rocked a rowboat we were in when I was three years
old. I never learned to row until after I married Elson. I was also
afraid of heights, but trying not to show just how scared I was, I said
to Elson, “I can never climb up there."
"Oh yes, you can. Just
grab the rungs and I’ll be right behind you.”
with him behind me telling me to look up and never down, I made it. To
this day I have kept his words with me and when I’d get discouraged I
would think of them. They’ve helped me a good many times to overcome a
panicky feeling and do what had to be done.
Click here to listen to Connie Small's
description of the interior of Lubec Channel Lighthouse, from a 1997
interview. The "Uncle Lo" she refers to is Loring Meyers,
who was Connie's uncle.
U.S. Coast Guard photo
Earl Ashby was the light's last principal keeper,
serving from about 1934 to 1939.
assistant keeper, Nathaniel Alley, was alone on duty one day in 1939
when he was overcome by gas from the coal stove. The captain of the
Grand Manan ferry, which ran regularly through the area, was accustomed
to hailing the man on duty. When no one appeared, the captain became
suspicious. Nathaniel Alley was found and taken to Lubec for medical
treatment, but he soon died. The light was automated a short time
later, with the installation of an acetylene gas system and a sun valve.
(Thanks to Ronald Pesha for this information, which was
related to him by Don Ashby, Keeper Earl Ashby's son.)
|In 1989 the light was to be discontinued, but local
residents mounted a "Save the Sparkplug" campaign. Automobile
sparkplugs were handed out to gain attention for the cause. In 1992, a
$700,000 renovation restored Lubec Channel Light to its best condition
in decades. The renovation included the stabilization of the
foundation, which had developed a tilt over the years. New plates were
installed on the caisson and 200 cubic yards of concrete was pumped in.
Twelve piles were then driven through the caisson into the
bedrock. One of the piles was driven 149 feet. The lighthouse still has
a six-degree list but is considered stable.
In the summer of 2001, the lighthouse received a new coat of
paint and other maintenance from the U.S. Coast Guard. The crew out of
Southwest Harbor, Maine, spent four days working on the tower. In her
honor, the Coast Guard crew painted "Connie Small was here" on the
Only two sardine packing plants are in operation today in
Lubec, but the town is still an active fishing community and the
Channel Light remains an important aid to navigation. The lighthouse
can easily be seen from many points on shore. When visiting the area be
sure to drive to Campobello Island, site of Franklin D. Roosevelt's
former summer home and East Quoddy Head Lighthouse. Also, you might
want to stop at the Lubec Historical Society to see a 1,000-pound fog
bell once used at Lubec Channel Light.
In 2006, the lighthouse was made available to a suitable new
steward under the guidelines of the National Historic Lighthouse
Preservation Act of 2000. There were no applicants, so in July 2007 it
was auctioned to Gary Zaremba for a high bid of $46,000. You can read more about him here.
list is a work in progress. If you have any information on the keepers
of this lighthouse, I'd love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com.
Anyone copying this list onto another web site does so at their own
risk, as the list is always subject to updates and corrections.)
Frederick W. Morong (1890-1898); Loring W. Myers
(assistant, 1890-1898, principal keeper 1898-circa 1923), A. Mitchell
(?), Elson Small (assistant, 1920-1922), ? Park (?), Parker M. Hoghton
(c. 1926), ? Robinson (?), James Doran (?), Everett E. Moore (1929),
Arthur Robie Marston (c. 1935), Nathaniel Alley (assistant, c. 1939,
died on duty), Earle B. Ashby (c. 1933-1939)