Boon Island Light
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Written by Jeremy D'Entremont

Boon Island Light

Off York, Maine
Est. 1799, current light 1855
133 feet tall; 137 feet above sea level.

Historian Samuel Adams Drake wrote, "Eight or nine miles out, in plain sight, Boon Island lifts its solitary shaft aloft like an ‘eternal exclamation mark’ to the temerity of its builders."

Jeremy's Lighthouse Guide #16

 

SEE: The Republic of Boon Island

Celia Thaxter called it simply "the forlornest place that can be imagined." Words like "stark" and "bleak" were made to describe Boon Island and its lighthouse.

Boon Island LighthouseThe most famous incident in the island's history was the wreck of the British ship Nottingham Galley in 1710. The survivors struggled to stay alive for over three weeks, finally resorting to cannibalism. It is said that after this disaster local fishermen began leaving barrels of provisions on Boon Island in case of future wrecks.

There was a daybeacon on the island for some years, and the first lighthouse was built in 1811. The first keeper, after witnessing the vulnerability of the low island, left after only a few weeks. That first tower was destroyed by a storm in 1831. The present granite tower was constructed between 1852 and 1854. It’s the tallest lighthouse in New England.

Kittery native Captain William C. Williams served as keeper from 1885 to 1911. He later said, "The seas would clean the ledge right off sometimes... I was always thinking over just what I would do in order to save my life, should the whole station be swept away." In an 1888 storm Williams and the others on the island had to take refuge at the top of the tower for three days.

The great blizzard of February 1978 flooded the 1899 keeper's house and scattered boulders around like they were pebbles. The following day the keepers were rescued by helicopter. The light was automated a short time later.

The American Lighthouse Foundation of Wells is working for the preservation of this lighthouse, which can be seen in the distance from Sohier Park in York. The enormous old first order Fresnel lens is on display at the Kittery Historical and Naval Museum.

For a more detailed HISTORY of this light

Boon Island

Boon Island Lighthouse

Copyright 2004 by Jeremy D'Entremont,New England Lighthouses
Photos are the property of the author and may not be used without permission.
Photos above from Jeremy D'Entremont.