|Narraguagus (Pond Island), ME|
Description: Narraguagus is reportedly an Indian name, meaning “wide and shallow,” and it has been applied to both a river and bay in downeast Maine. From the outlet of Eagle Lake, the Narraguagus River runs southeast for just over fifty-five miles to Milbridge, where it empties into Narraguagus Bay. Starting in the mid-1800s, Milbridge became known as a shipbuilding center, and over 150 large ships were launched into the river from the town’s shipyards.
Three acres for the lighthouse were purchased for $270 from Benjamin C. Stanwood, who ran a farm on Pond Island, and the superintendent of lights for the State of Maine supervised the construction of a cylindrical tower, surrounded by a rectangular, one-and-a-half-story dwelling. The lighthouse, which was put into service in April 1853, resembled the first lighthouses built in California at Alcatraz Island, Point Pinos, and Point Loma a few years later.
Joseph Brown served as the first keeper, but he was replaced in 1855 by Wyman Collins, who earned an annual salary of $350. In 1856, a fifth-order Fresnel lens replaced the original set of seven lamps and twenty-one-inch reflectors, but the signature of the light remained fixed white.
In 1875, the Lighthouse Board reported that the keeper’s dwelling had become uninhabitable, prompting the construction of a frame, one-and-a-half-story residence having five rooms for the keeper and his family. The old tower received a new deck and lantern, and a fog bell, struck by hand, was added to the station at this time.
A frame boathouse, twelve feet wide and twenty feet long, was built north of the lighthouse in 1880. The following year, a wooden cistern, six feet in diameter and with a depth of five feet, was provided to store the rainwater collected from the dwelling’s roof.
Congress allocated $150 in 1900 so additional land could be purchased north of the station for a new boat landing, as the existing one was “hedged about with ledges.” The old boathouse and boatslip were relocated to the newly acquired land in 1902.
An inn, known as Pond Island House, was built on the island in 1878 and a golf course was added in the 1920s. As recorded in Anne C. Nash’s book Pond Island Heritage, one of the island activities enjoyed by guests was visiting Narraguagus Lighthouse.
Elizabeth Hitchcock, an island resident, had a lot of interaction with Keeper Gott and his family around the turn of the nineteenth century. “I would go to see the keeper’s tall, slender, red-haired wife,” Elizabeth recalled. “She seemed always to be baking biscuits or yeast bread, and the kitchen smelled of bread, kerosene, and fresh paint.”
On Sunday evenings people would gather at the lighthouse for evening hymn-singing sessions, accompanied by Elizabeth’s mother on a pump organ. “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.”
On August 4, 1929, the Canadian schooner Valdare was dismasted in a violent storm and then wrecked on Petit Manan Bar. The keeper and first assistant at Petit Manan Lighthouse noticed the vessel that evening but were unable to render any assistance due to rough seas and floating wreckage. Fortunately, the four officers and crew of the Valdare were able to reach Narraguagus Lighthouse by rowboat where they were cared for by Keeper Charles E. Tracy for nearly two weeks. Having been provided food by Keeper Tracy, the men set out in their rowboat on August 16th, and made their way some ninety-five miles to Nova Scotia. The British Consul at Boston wrote a letter expressing his gratitude for the services provided, and Keeper Tracy was officially commended for his assistance.
Narraguagus Lighthouse was discontinued in 1934, and the station was sold at auction to Wilbur Dameron. The property was passed down through the Dameron family and is believed to still be owned by them. A lighted buoy, located just off Pond Island, has taken over the function of the lighthouse.
Located on Pond Island, marking the entrance to Narraguagus Bay. The lighthouse is privately owned. Grounds/dwelling/tower closed.
The lighthouse is privately owned. Grounds/dwelling/tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.