Halfway Rock Light

Halfway Rock Lighthouse is a lighthouse located on a barren ledge in Casco Bay, Maine. The lighthouse tower, which has a height of 76 feet (23 m), and the attached ex-boathouse are all that remain, as the other buildings have been taken away in storms. The name "Halfway Rock" comes from the position of the rock which is half way between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Small, Maine, the southwest and northeast extremities of Casco Bay, which are about 18 nautical miles (33 km) apart. Halfway Rock Light was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Halfway Rock Light Station on March 14, 1988, reference number 88000150.

The need for a lighthouse on Halfway Rock first came to attention when, in the year 1835, a ship called Samuel ran aground on the rock during a storm. Because the ledge is only ten feet above high tide on a calm day, it becomes hard to see during storms. The cry for a lighthouse was ignored in Washington until, again, in 1861, a ship ran aground on Halfway Rock. This time, it was taken a bit more seriously. Construction began, but was delayed time and time again due to lack of supplies and lack of workmen. Ten years later, in 1871, the first light shone from Halfway Rock, as a new light had been completed. The keepers' quarters were originally inside the lighthouse tower. An 1888 boathouse contained additional living space for the keepers in its upper story. The light was originally produced by a third-order Fresnel lens. Its characteristic was fixed white punctuated by a red flash once every minute. A fog bell was brought to the rock in 1887. It had a bit of success, but as technology kept coming out with new innovations, the bell was replaced with a fog "trumpet" in 1905. Since this was a hard lighthouse station to get to, in the mid-1930s, the Coast Guard began bringing a tender to bring the men into the mainland and back out to the rock. In addition to this, there was a helicopter landing pad in case of emergency. The light was automated in 1975 and the keepers were removed. The marine railway was destroyed by the 1991 Perfect Storm. The old Fresnel lens is now at the museum at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT; the active optic is a VRB-25. The attached wood building was badly damaged by storms in 2007. The lighthouse is now licensed to the American Lighthouse Foundation, and the organization is raising funds for its restoration.


2 photos