|Marshall Point, ME|
Description: Marshall Point Lighthouse is situated on a rocky ledge at the tip of the St. George peninsula where it overlooks both Muscongus and Penobscot Bays. The station’s history begins in 1831, when the U.S. government appropriated $4,000 for a lighthouse and four acres of land at the site were purchased from Samuel Marshall for $120.
In 1858 a new tower was built at its present site, near the tide line. The lower half of the 24-foot, cylindrical tower was built of granite, and the upper half of brick. The lantern was made of cast iron and housed a fifth-order Fresnel lens showing a fixed white light. The cost for the new lighthouse and its modern illuminating apparatus was $5,000.
Charles Clement Skinner became keeper of the Marshall Point Lighthouse in 1874 and remained at the station for forty-five years, the longest period of service for a keeper at the same lighthouse in the history of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. After being wounded in the Civil War, Charles returned to Maine and married Amanda Colby. The couple had two daughters, the second of which died in infancy and was soon followed in death by her mother. Charles then married Amanda’s younger sister Arvilla and shortly thereafter accepted the position at Marshall Point. Charles had five more children while serving at the lighthouse.
In 1879, the original keeper’s dwelling, which at the time was home to the Skinner family, was thoroughly renovated, receiving two new chimneys, new windows and frames, and new floorings. In addition, a new water closet was built a short distance west of the dwelling. Keeper Skinner made the following journal entry in June of 1895. “Heavy thunder showers passed over here at 1 o’clock this morning. The dwelling house at this station was struck by lightning and one chimney, the roof, one window, and three rooms badly shattered, lightning entered from rooms besides the cellar, no one seriously injured.”
A bell tower, equipped with a 1,018-pound brass bell, was added to the station in 1898. In times of fog, the keeper had to wind up the weight-driven striking mechanism every four hours so it could toll the bell every twenty seconds. A telephone line was extended to the station in 1898 to relay weather warnings for display on a signal tower that was installed on the point that year by the Weather Bureau. On February 18, 1902, Skinner recorded, “Hurricane signal ordered up last night, but lines were down and did not get message until today.” In addition to the lighthouse, bell tower, signal tower, and dwelling, the station was also equipped with a barn, fuel house, and boathouse.
In his logs, Skinner noted many strandings of both man and beast in the area of the station. On October 28, 1884, he wrote: “A fin-back whale stranded on Mosquito Point last night. Sixty-seven feet in length.” And on February 10, 1886: “Steamer Cambridge was wrecked on Old Man Ledge at 4:45 AM. Passengers and crew all saved & landed on Allen Island where they were taken off by Steamer Dallas this forenoon and taken to Rockland. The Cambridge is a total loss, is fast breaking up.”
Marshall Point Light was automated in 1971, and by 1980 the LORAN station, which had been established in the dwelling, became obsolete allowing for personnel to be removed from the station. The keeper’s dwelling was boarded up and fell into disrepair until a hotel chain showed interest in the property in the mid-1980s. This threat spurred the community into action, and in 1986, the St. George Historical Society accepted the responsibility of restoring the keeper’s dwelling. After a successful fundraising campaign, the society restored the dwelling to its original splendor and was granted a thirty-year lease on the structured and grounds by the Coast Guard. On June 30, 1990, Marion and Eula, the longest-lived of the Skinner children, had the honor of cutting the ribbon to open the first floor of their childhood home as the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum. (The upper floor of the dwelling is rented to tenants.)
A replica of the station’s summer kitchen was rebuilt adjacent to the dwelling in 1995 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the dwelling and to provide additional floor space for museum exhibits. Ownership of the lighthouse, dwelling and grounds was officially given to the Town of St. George in 1998 as part of the Maine Lights Program, spearheaded by the Island Institute.
Millions of Americans have seen Marshall Point Lighthouse, even though they might not know it. The lighthouse’s wooden walkway served as the terminating point in Forrest Gump’s cross-country run… “Run, Forrest, Run.”
Eula Skinner Kelly passed away in 1993 at a summer cottage near the lighthouse at the age of 101. Her sister, Marion, had preceded her in death the previous year. The two, both widows, had spent the last decades of their lives living together in Warren, not too far from the lighthouse. In videotape recordings made by the sisters before their passing, Marion told of trips to school in Tenants Harbor by herself when she would have to hold onto the horse’s reins for dear life when the animal got frisky. Eula recounted a story of getting a stomachache while berry picking near the lighthouse. The ache turned out not to be from too many berries but from a ruptured appendix, that was removed by a doctor while Eula laid on a table in the upstairs of the dwelling. The sisters found numerous fond memories at Marshall Point, and the place is still providing the same service today for thousands of visitors who each year come to experience this remarkable setting.
Photo Gallery: 1
Located at the entrance to Port Clyde and the Saint George River. The lighthouse is owned by the Town of Port Clyde. Grounds/dwelling open, tower closed.
The lighthouse is owned by the Town of Port Clyde. Grounds/dwelling open, tower closed.
Notes from a friend:Kraig writes:
Besides "Forrest Gump," Marshall Point Lighthouse can also be seen in the movie "Thinner."
See our List of Lighthouses in Maine
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.