May 25, 2018
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Visitors flock to lighthouses on Maine Open Lighthouse Day

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
People enjoy the view from the Owls Head Lighthouse during the 3rd annual Open Lighthouse Day Saturday. The U.S. Coast Guard, the State of Maine and the American Lighthouse Foundation coordinates the day and opens up over 20 lighthouses to the public for the day.
By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

OWLS HEAD, Maine — The air was warm and the skies were crystal clear. There was hardly any need for a lighthouse Saturday, but that didn’t keep people away from legendary fixtures along Maine’s coast during the third annual Maine Open Lighthouse Day.

People from all over the country flocked to lighthouses along the coast to take in the views and the various stories.

Larry and Grace Chase traveled from Las Vegas to have their Christmas card picture taken in front of the Owls Head Lighthouse.

“Really, really nice views,” said Grace Chase. “I must have 100 pictures of the same view. We’re from Las Vegas. There’s no water there.”

Her husband, Larry, was also taken by the views.

“We couldn’t have picked a better day,” he said while gazing out at Owls Head Harbor.

Volunteer Amy Faunce was surprised by how far she could see from atop the tower.

“You can see Matinicus, which is absolutely amazing,” she said. “This is the first time in a long time I’ve seen Matinicus [from here].”

Paul Doucette and Sandy McQuilkin, both of Newburgh, made a day out of visiting lighthouses.

“I think it’s great,” said McQuilkin. “I wish they would open the lighthouses more often.”

“There were a lot of people at Breakwater [Lighthouse in Rockland],” said Doucette, while waiting to go into Owls Head Lighthouse. “I was kind of surprised by that.”

Owls Head Lighthouse opened in 1825 and it still used for navigation, said Faunce.

Volunteers were happy to share stories and tales about the lighthouse.

Faunce talked of a Springer Spaniel named Spot.

“When you walked up, you may have seen a marker on the ground. It said ‘Spot,’” she said. “Before there were fog horns, there was a bell on a triangular tower. The story goes that a mail boat that delivered mail to Rockland up to Matinicus used to listen for the bell. One winter, the whole thing froze up. Spot was very used to the sound of this boat, and he heard it. The bell pulley wouldn’t work, so he went outside and he barked. And he barked and barked and barked until he couldn’t hear the boat anymore and the boat cleared the point.”

Faunce said Spot is buried on the property and a children’s book called ‘Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue’ was written by Angeli Perrow about Spot.

Another volunteer, Linda Strout, has a direct connection to the lighthouse. She said she was a direct descendant of Lydia Dyer, who, along with her fiancee Richard Ingraham, were nearly frozen to death after their schooner slammed the rocks along Owls Head.

Despite her personal connection to the lighthouse, she said she’s volunteering her time because, “I just like to volunteer.”

A couple from West Townsend, Mass., traveled four hours to Owls Head. Mostly because of their 6-year-old son.

“He’s fascinated with lighthouses, so that’s what we do,” said Jim Geehan, referring to his son, Jimmy. “We have a big scrapbook. We take a picture in front of a lighthouse [and] we label it.”

Geehan, along with his wife Rose, thought Maine, the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Lighthouse Foundation did a great job in making lighthouses accessible to the public.

“Maine is the best with the lighthouses,” he said. “In Massachusetts, they’re hard to find, hard to get to, they’re not marked at all. But in Maine, there are no problems.”

Would he come back?

“Absolutely. I wish they would do more of these,” said Geehan.

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