Maine’s oldest original lighthouse up close and personal

Posted:  Friday, June 1, 2018 - 10:30am


This summer, I’ve been trying to experience things in the Midcoast I’ve not really paid attention to in my 25 years of living here; one of them being lighthouses.

Lighthouses and lobsters are what draw an inordinate amount of people to Maine, but to many who live in Maine year round, they are literally just part of the scenery. However, sometimes you have to get out of your local mindset and take a real good look and what draws people here.

Thanks to Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, I was invited to pretty rare event: the exploration of Burnt Island out in the bay of Boothbay, and a close up tour of its lighthouse.

First things first: why is it called Burnt Island? Because the lighthouse keepers had to burn the vegetation each year in order for new grasses to grow to feed the island’s sheep. You can find its origin story and history here.

Secondly, the island is open to the public seven days a week from 10 a.m. to  5  p.m., but the lighthouse is only open to tour groups or by appointment. Visit the Tour Schedule here

Recreational boaters are welcome to use the moorings and dock, on a first-come, first-serve basis. (Please leave the suggested donation of $2.00 per person to help with operational expenses.)

Thirdly: I got a chance to go in and see the light house and keeper’s house— OK, wow. A lot of kids get to see inside, because how many school groups tour the island, but people who just randomly come ashore rarely have access to it, unless it’s by appointment as noted above or if they’re with a special tour.

But, since we were on said special tour, we got a chance to look around.

The first floor of the keeper’s house has been restored to look the way the keeper’s family left it in the 1950s. From a retro coal-burning stove in the kitchen to the 1950s products and cans in the pantry, the house itself is a walk-through museum. Connected to a wooden walkway to the lighthouse, the walkway walls host a number of historical documents.

The light house could only accommodate six people at a time as I walked up a steep spiral staircase and stood in the tiny red lantern-room while Elaine Jones, education director, gave an interesting talk on why most of the window panels were red. Want to know why?

If you want to visit Burnt Island this summer and get a tour of the lighthouse and keeper’s house, here is more information.

Check out the gallery below but go this summer and experience it for yourself!

All photos by Kay Stephens

Kay Stephens can be reached at