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Published on Aug 31, 2008
Burnt Island Lighthouse, Boothbay Harbor Maine Built in 1821, the Burnt Island lighthouse is Maine's third oldest. Standing on an island at the west side of the entrance to Boothbay Harbor roughly 2.5 miles northwest of the Ram Island light, the original 30 foot, conical rubblestone tower stands not only as a marker of the harbor entrance but as a warning of the dangerous shoals nearby. in 1857, the original Lewis Patent reflectors were by a fourth order Fresnel lens. A 1.5 story keeper's residence with a covered walkway to the tower were also added that same year. The light caused some confusion among mariners and was blamed for several shipwrecks into the dangerous rocks known as The Cuckolds some three miles to the south. In 1888, the light was modified to better facilitate navigation (The Cuckolds lighthouse was also built in 1892 to further aid the trip in and out of Boothbay Harbor).
The Burnt Island lighthouse was the last in New England to be updated from kerosene to electricity in 1962 and was automated in 1989. Ownership of the station was transferred to the Maine Department of Marine Resources under the Maine Lights Program in early 1998. A private, non-profit group known as the Burnt Island Lighthouse Society actively works to preserve the site, which the state has developed into the "Burnt Island Living Lighthouse" where tourists find the light station operating much as it did in the 1800s. The site is very well preserved and still has its keepers residence and walkway, original fuel house, barn (1877), boathouse (1880), oil house (1899), and a hen house (1907). The first fourth order Fresnel lens was replaced by a second similar lens which was used until 1961 when it was replaced by a 300mm optic. Both Fresnels are on display at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland.
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After significant restoration efforts in the early 2000s, the light was rededicated in mid-2003. The site (excluding the tower which is still an active aid to navigation) is open to the public (207-633-9542) but accessible only by boat. The Burnt Island lighthouse can be seen from the east side of Boothbay Harbor but is best viewed via local boat tours out of Boothbay Harbor. The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath also offers tours in season