Saddleback Ledge Light

Oct. 15, 2019

Saddleback Ledge Light, Saddleback Ledge, between Isle au Haut and Vinalhaven, Penobscot Bay, Maine

Built in 1839.


Station Established: 1839
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1839
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1954
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: SURFACE ROCK
Construction Materials: GRANITE
Tower Shape: CONICAL
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: FIFTH ORDER 1856

Historical Information:

Built in 1839, Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse is one of the most lonely outposts on the Maine coast. I. W. P. Lewis, .who inspected the lighthouse in the early fifties characterized it as "the only establishment on the coast of Maine that possesses any claim whatever to superiority. The sea breaks quite over the lantern in a southwest gale it is the most economical and durable structure that came under my observationthe only one ever erected in New England by an architect and engineer."

"The weirdest experience I have had since being in the service," reported Keeper W. W. Wells in 1935 "was the bombardment we got on a February night way back in 1927, when to my surprise I picked up 124 sea birds around the tower. They were ducks and drakes. Some were alive but the most were dead. Darkness had come on and with it came all the evidence that we were going to get a sou’easter. As the storm struck so did the cannonading Crash. . and a bird came sailing through a pane of glass, dropping at my feet. He began fluttering around the floor with one wing broken and his bill telescoped almost through his head. He did not live long. In came another and away went another windowpane. The phenomenon was repeated again and again until the birds began to pile up like a mound."

"Just when I thought the cannonading had ceased, one big sea drake struck the plate glass in the tower lantern and came through without asking for a transfer. When he struck he broke up the works. Before he stopped he put out the light and broke prisms out of the lens. The bird weighed 10 pounds."   After he had made repairs and got the light burning again, a strange sight greeted the keeper. At the base of the tower was a tremendous heap of sea birds, some dead others alive. "Those that were just dazed" he recounted "and needed to recuperate, we placed in the boathouse and next day they went on their way."

The conical gray tower, with a white base stands 42 feet above ground and 54 feet above water. The 2,000 candlepower, fourth-order incandescent oil vapor fixed white light is visible for 13 miles.