Today, the Rockland Breakwater and its historic lighthouse that stands sentinel at the south end of the granite structure are well-known and beloved icons of Midcoast Maine. Not only does the breakwater continue to serve as a harbor of refuge along Penobscot Bay, countless thousands of people walk the nearly mile-long stretch each year. This fun walk enables people to admire panoramic seascapes, windjammers, working lobster boats and marine life before reaching the end of their destination at the lighthouse.
Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse was completed in 1902 and has been sending out its guiding gleams over Penobscot Bay and Rockland Harbor ever since. Let’s take a moment and look back at how the lighthouse came to be through two entries in the annual reports of the Light-House Board…
1899 Annual Report of the Light-House Board
“The harbor of refuge, which the breakwater forms, will lead many sailing vessels to enter it in the stormy season and they will need ample warning of the outer end of the breakwater to avoid getting it too close under their lee, and the disaster of being carried upon it in blinding easterly and northeasterly snowstorms.
“The harbor of Rockland is entered throughout the year by the steamboats, which, during the summer, when fogs are frequent, carry large numbers of passengers between Boston and Bangor, touching at Rockland. In summer several other steamers also carry passengers into the harbor.
“On account of the dense fogs in summer and the blinding snowstorms in winter the outer end of the breakwater should be indicated. The Board proposes to establish a light-station on the end of the breakwater to consist of a stone pier supporting a small dwelling with a light, and a small trumpet should a fog-bell give inadequate warning, to save vessels from being carried against the breakwater in driving easterly and northeasterly snowstorms. It is estimated that this can be done for not exceeding $30,000, and the Board recommends that an appropriation of this amount be made therefor.”
1903 Annual Report of the Light-House Board
“The Act approved June 6, 1900, appropriated $30,000 for the establishment of a light and fog-signal station on the breakwater. Contract for its erection was approved June 20, 1901. Work commenced on July 1, was suspended for the winter on December 19, 1901, resumed April 12 (1902), and completed September 19, 1902.
“The light was exhibited for the first time October 30, 1902. The station consists of a brick tower, a fog-signal house, a keeper’s wooden dwelling and a boathouse, all attached, built on a stone pier. The light, which illuminates the entire horizon, is of the fourth order, flashing white every five seconds. Its focal plane is 39 feet above mean high water.
The fog-signal is a first-class Daboll trumpet. A direct hot-water heating system was installed in the dwelling. A fog-signal house, and a derrick, with winch, were provided at the landing. The revolving apparatus and fog-signal machinery were made in the Board’s machine shop in Boston.”