CREDITS: I would like to thank Jeremy D'Entremont for providing much of the history one can find on this site. He is a speaker, author, historian, and tour guide who is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the lighthouses of New England. For a story on Jeremy or to visit his site (New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide), use the corresponding link in the right hand information bar under "Related Links".

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I have set up this site as a means to share my photographs of lighthouses. Since retiring and finding more time to study photography, my interests have expanded a little. For some of my work other than lighthouses please enjoy my Facebook page at, John Shaw Photography. Come visit, enjoy, and 'LIKE' if you wish.

Also, for your enjoyment, I have provided a slideshow of our journey. To view it please use the link on the right under 'Site Navigation Tools'.

I sincerely hope you enjoy my efforts and use my site not only for information and education but also to provide directions for many enjoyable, inspirational visits to the beacons along our beautiful coas.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Goat Island Lighthouse

       Cape Porpoise village is built around the shores of its harbor, which a cluster of large and small islands protects. On one of them stands the baby lighthouse of the coast. This harbor -- or perhaps we should say harbors, since there are two basins -- is remarkable for being the only one between Portsmouth and the Saco...   Samuel Adams Drake, The Pine Tree Coast -- 1891

     Cape Porpoise was named by Capt. John Smith for a school of porpoises he saw there. Established in August 1833 for $6,000, Goat Island Light was established to help guide mariners into the sheltered harbor at Cape Porpoise, a busy fishing center for many years.

     In 1859, the tower and house were rebuilt.  For many years, the tower was connected to the 1 1/2-story house by a covered walkway. A boathouse was added in 1905 and an oil house in 1907.
Dangerous rocks near Goat Island continued to claim vessels, including 46 between 1865 and 1920. There was not one death in all the wrecks, partly due to the keepers at Goat Island picking up.survivors near the island. In 1930, a schooner, the Margery Austin, went aground near the lighthouse.

     Keeper James M. Anderson went out in rough seas and helped refloat the vessel.
James M. Anderson was keeper in 1929 when the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, anchored their yacht near Goat Island during their honeymoon. Anderson and his family watched with binoculars as the Lindberghs moved around on the boat, and the keeper told a reporter that the lights were turned off on the yacht at 8:25 p.m.

     Coast Guard Keeper Joseph Bakken, who lived on Goat Island with his wife and three children, told historian Edward Rowe Snow about his experience during a particularly severe storm in 1947. The waves washed over the island and damaged the walkway and the boat slip and ripped out a fence. In the commotion the family forgot about their dog and her newborn puppies.

     Later that night, Bakken went into the cellar and found several feet of water. Floating in the seawater was the box that contained the dog and her puppies. All were safe and sound and the keeper brought them upstairs out of harm's way.

     Julie Owyang, whose brother Mark Brooke was the Coast Guard's officer in charge for two years in the 1970s, wrote the following note in January 2009:  "I came and spent two weeks with them Christmas of '73. My Mom and Dad and I took the train up from western North Carolina to Boston, and Mark picked us up there. What a treat! I'll never forget the piles of lobster we had for dinner in the kitchen with the table covered with newspapers. We had kept them alive in the sink that had the saltwater faucet in it until it was time to cook them"

     The Coast Guard initially planned to automate Goat Island Light in 1976. Local residents felt that having a keeper on Goat Island was important to protect the island and lighthouse station from vandalism, so the automation plans were postponed.

     Martin Cain, a Minnesota native, was the Coast Guard’s officer in charge from October 1975 until June 1978. Cain monitored the local buoys and recorded the weather four times daily. He switched on the foghorn when a lighted buoy almost two miles away was obscured by fog or storm.

     Cain lived on the island with his wife, Cathy, their baby, Martin J., and two cats and a dog. In a 1976 interview, he said he and his wife had to be more compatible than the average couple, but if they did have a fight, “One goes to one side of the island and the other goes to the other side and talks to the seagulls.”

     The Cains were on the island for the memorable blizzard of February 6–7, 1978, which folded the covered walkway between the house and tower “like an accordion” and swept it off the island. At the end of his stay, Cain said, “We’ve seen a lot out here and for the most part we’ve enjoyed it, but we’re ready to leave.”

     Mark Estee was the Coast Guard keeper 1978-80. He lived on the island with his wife, Kris, and their two young children, Nathaniel and Michelle. In an email in June 2011, Kris (Estee) Woodgate recalled life on the island:  "It was such an adventure.  We were quite young, early 20s, and from Wisconsin so we had never seen such a beautiful place ever.  We were the ones who put in the new wooden walkway and cleaned up after the storm of 1978.  The island was quite a mess.  We had lots of company from Wisconsin; our relatives thought it was pretty awesome"

     In 1990, Goat Island Light became the last lighthouse in Maine to be automated. Its Fresnel lens was replaced by a modern 300mm optic. Brad Culp, his wife Lisa and their two children Christian and Dakota were Maine's last traditional lighthouse family. Lisa Culp said of her eight-year old son Christian, "I think it's something he'll carry with him all his life."

     For a time during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, secret service agents lived at Goat Island, which offers a good vantage point on Bush's estate at Walker's Point. The island served as an air-sea command center complete with a radar beacon.

      In 1992, Goat Island was leased to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust. In 1998, under the Maine Lights Program, the lighthouse officially became the property of the trust, which since its founding in 1969 has protected 560 acres of town land from development.

     Goat Island Light remains an active aid to navigation. The lighthouse can be seen at a distance from the public wharf in Cape Porpoise. Visitors with private boats are welcome to the island and tour boats from Kennebunkport pass nearby.

In July 2009, the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust announced plans to restore the keeper's house to the 1950s period. There are also plans to hold more educational programs on the island.

     Work began in the spring of 2011 to rebuild the station's fog bell tower and the covered walkway as part of a $380,000 restoration project.  It was completed in October of that year.

     Directions:  From I-95 take the Kennebunkport exit, follow ME 35 into Kennebunk.  Take ME 9A south to Kennebunkport.  RT 9A becomes RT 9; continue through Kennebunkport to Cape Porpoise Center.  Where ME 9n makes a 90-degree turn left, bear right onto Pier Road which ends at the wharf.  The light is offshore to the southeast.  Better Photographs are possible from a tour boat out of Kennebunkport.

     CreditsI would like to thank Jeremy D'Entremont, webmaster of,, for sharing the above history.  Jeremy is a speaker, author, historian, and tour guide who is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the lighthouses of New England.  To view a story on him, go to, (Jeremy D'Entremont).  

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