Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Sailing into Halloween
There are less than two weeks now until Halloween--what better time for another lighthouse design, especially if the lighthouse is haunted!
This is Seguin Island lighthouse, located north of Portland, Maine, at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Its name comes from seguin or "turtle," the word used by early Native Americans to describe the shape of the island. The first light station on the island was a wooden structure commissioned by George Washington in 1795. Taken out by a storm in 1820, it was replaced by a stone tower.
The third lighthouse, which is pictured here, was built in 1857 on the highest point of the island using granite blocks and stands 53-feet tall. It was fitted with a First Order Fresnel lens, the only one of its kind in Maine as well as the only one located north of Rhode Island. From its vantage point of 180 feet above sea level, the fixed white light of the lens can be seen from 18 miles away. At nine feet high, the lens was tall enough for a keeper to go completely inside it to light it.
The island has the distinction of being one of the foggiest places in the world. The Lighthouse Board installed a new steam-driven fog whistle in 1873 that sounds an eight-second blast every minute and is one of the most powerful fog signals available. In 1907 the location set a state record for fogginess--2,374 hours, representing approximately 31 percent of the year.
While still an active aid to navigation, the property was transferred by the Coast Guard in 1998 under the Maine Lights Program to the Friends of Seguin Island Lighthouse. Since that time, caretakers from this group live on the island every summer, restoring the keeper's house and other outbuildings.
With a lighthouse presence on the island for more than 200 years, it's not surprising that tales of strange sounds, ghostly apparitions and more-than-coincidental events have evolved. I'll be weaving in some stories of the supernatural as I stitch Seguin Island lighthouse as my next project!