In the nineteenth century,
town of Milbridge was an important shipping point for lumber coming
from the Narraguagus River. Shipbuilding and fishing in the area were
also flourishing, and Congress appropriated $4,000 for a lighthouse to
aid local navigation on March 3, 1851.
The site chosen was
the east side of 360-acre Pond Island. The small freshwater pond that
gave the island its name, now mostly a swamp, is at the its northern
end. Three acres of land for the light station were purchased for $270
from Benjamin C. Stanwood, who operated a farm on the island. The
entire island had been in the Stanwood family since 1833, when it was
bought from a Boston doctor.
Narraguagus Light prior to 1875
(U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Narraguagus Light Station, established in April 1853, originally
consisted of a tower and lantern in atop the center of a keeper’s
dwelling. The first keeper was Joseph Brown. A fifth-order Fresnel lens
replaced the original system of multiple lamps and reflectors in 1856.
The focal plane of the light was 54 feet above mean high water.
Circa late 1800s
|In 1875, the Lighthouse Board reported that the
dwelling had become
uninhabitable. A new five-room dwelling was built in 1876, and much of
the original house was removed from around the tower. Around the same
time, a ten-sided lantern and a new deck were installed, and a
hand-rung fog bell was established.
31-foot granite tower was connected to the dwelling by a workroom built
from part of the original house in 1887. The rest of the original
dwelling was removed at the same time.
A barn and a fuel
house, as well as a cistern in the dwelling’s cellar, were added in
1892. In 1894, the lighthouse was reinforced with a layer of brick, and
a new lantern deck and interior iron stairway were installed along with
an iron stairway inside the tower.
Access to the station was difficult, requiring a half-mile
walk across the island. A boat slip built near the lighthouse in 1900
was for emergency access to the island only and was not used by the
Few of the station's keepers stayed more than a few years until William
C. Gott, who arrived in 1893 and stayed until at least 1915.
inn and clubhouse was were built on the island in 1878, and the
three-story Pond Island House continues to operate today. A golf course
was added to the island in the 1920s. According to Anne C. Nash’s book Pond Island Heritage,
visiting the lighthouse keeper and his family was a typical summer
activity for guests at the Pond Island House, when they weren’t busy
playing golf or croquet, or competing in wheelbarrow races.
to Nash, Elizabeth Hitchcock, an island resident, recalled girlhood
visits with the Gott family at the lighthouse. “I would go to see the
keeper’s tall, slender, red-haired wife,” she recalled. “She seemed
always to be baking biscuits or yeast bread, and the kitchen smelled of
bread, kerosene, and fresh paint.”
One day, Keeper Gott was away fishing on the west side
of the island
when the lighthouse inspector’s boat appeared. Young Elizabeth, knowing
a surprise inspection was imminent, ran to tell the keeper. She
along his uniform, which he donned as he hurried through the woods to
the light station. He emerged from the woods in full uniform just as
the inspector reached the station.
Elizabeth Hitchcock also
recalled Sunday evening hymn-singing sessions with the Gotts.
Elizabeth’s mother played the organ while everyone sang loudly. “Mrs.
Gott wouldn’t sing,” Elizabeth remembered, “but tears would roll down
her cheeks. She was so happy to have friends come in the summer time.
The winters were so lonely.”
From "Stebbins Illustrated
Coast Pilot," 1902
In 1886, Lucy Brown Reynolds described a visit to the light
station during Gott's stay in her book Drops of Spray from Southern Seas:
was a dark, stormy night, and the keeper's cottage was very cheerful,
with its glow of lamp and firelight. A capital supper having been
partaken of, we were shown over the lighthouse by the keeper's wife, a
cheery, bustling little woman, who seemed delighted to have us there. I
had never been inside a lighthouse tower before, and was very much
interested in all I saw. The brilliant light sent its warning far out
over the troubled waters, bidding all mariners beware. At intervals we
could hear the boom, boom, of the steam foghorn at Petit Manan, three
miles or thereabouts outside.
August 4, 1929, a Nova Scotia schooner, en route to Salem and Boston,
Massachusetts, was wrecked on Petit Manan Bar in a gusty rainstorm. The
two keepers at Petit Manan Light Station attempted to aid the crew, but
they found that the vessel had already been abandoned.
captain and three crewmen escaped in the schooner’s rowboat and took
refuge at the Narraguagus Light Station, where the keeper, Charles E.
Tracy, cared them for them for 12 days. On August 16 they left in the
rowboat for a 95-mile journey to Nova Scotia, with food provided by
Tracy. The British consul general at Boston wrote a letter expressing
his thanks for the services of Tracy and the two keepers at Petit Manan
Narraguagus Light late in the
19th century (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Narraguagus Light was discontinued in 1934, and the
other buildings and the surrounding five acres were sold at auction to
Wilbur Dameron. The property was later inherited by Dameron’s son,
According to Anne C. Nash, the lighthouse has been the
scene of much ghostly activity. In the 1970s, two college friends of a
member of the Dameron family spent the night in a downstairs bedroom.
They reported hearing a woman speaking loudly and angrily in a foreign
language during the night. The only woman present in the house, Wilbur
Dameron Jr.’s wife, Nancy, spoke only English and claimed she had been
asleep all night.
On the following night, one of the young men
was aroused by a loud noise next to him, as if something heavy had
landed on his pillow. There was nothing on the pillow, and nothing in
the room was disturbed. According to Nash, the spirit left the young
men alone after they made it clear that they were there to help
renovate the house, not to harm it.
Narraguagus Light was discontinued
in 1934 and the lighthouse and other buildings and the surrounding five
acres were sold at auction. The lighthouse and keeper's dwelling
remain, as well as the oil house and two storage buildings, still owned
privately. The lighthouse is best viewed by boat.
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.)
Joseph Brown (1853-1855), Wyman Collins (1855-1859), Daniel
Chipman (1859-1861), Alfred Wallace (1862-1865), Joseph W. Brown
(1865-1869); George L. Upton (1869-1876), Solomon G. Kelliher
(1876-1880), Ambrose Wallace (1880-1882), Warren A. Murch (1882-1885),
James M. Gates (1885-1893), William C. Gott (1893-c. 1915), Lester
Leighton (c. 1919-?), ? Robinson (?), Charles E. Tracy (c. 1929)