The 1855 annual report of the Lighthouse Board stated, “There is a very good harbor about four miles west of Mount Desert Harbor, called Bass Harbor. A light is necessary to assist vessels entering it.”
Congress soon appropriated a sum of $5,000, and title to the needed land was secured in 1857. A 32-foot-tall lighthouse was built at rocky Bass Harbor Head in 1858. The cylindrical brick lighthouse tower is attached to the one-and-one-half-story, wood-frame keeper’s house by a covered walkway. A 32-foot-tall lighthouse was built at rocky Bass Harbor Head in 1858. The cylindrical brick lighthouse tower is attached to the one-and-one-half-story, wood-frame keeper’s house by a covered walkway.
A fixed red light went into service on September 1, 1858. It served to warn mariners of the Bass Harbor Bar at the eastern entrance to Bass Harbor, and also to mark the southeast entrance to Blue Hill Bay. Throughout its history as a staffed light station, Bass Harbor Head was home to a single keeper and his family.
The light was converted to electric operation in 1949. After automation in 1974, the station was retained as housing for a Coast Guard family. Several commanders of Coast Guard Group Southwest Harbor have lived in the keeper’s house.
Bass Harbor today is a secluded fishing village and the location of a ferry to Swan’s Island. There is a large parking area near the lighthouse that often fills up in summer. A path leads down to the granite boulders neighboring the light station. To get a good view of the lighthouse it is necessary to climb a distance over the rocks; extreme caution should be taken.
Directions: Follow Route 3 from Ellsworth to ME 198, turn south onto ME 102 and continue through Bass Harbor to the Coast Guard Bass Harbor Head Station entrance. There are trails east of the parking area which head down to large granite boulders at the shore; best views and photographs of the light from land are taken from these rocks.
|View From Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse|