Maine’s iconic 1858 Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, one of the state’s most visited, may soon have its ownership transferred to the National Park Service as part of Acadia National Park.
At press time Acadia National Park officials were considering the offer by the U.S. Coast Guard and the General Services Administration to officially take over the 2.5 acre property, which includes the lighthouse tower, the keeper’s house, the fog bell building, and other structures.
The lighthouse is basically surrounded by Acadia National Park property and is visited by thousands of people every year. Up until recent years, it was used as Coast Guard housing and in 2010, it was visited by former President Obama when he spent three days touring the park.
A spokesperson for Acadia National Park said, “We’re really thinking about it and doing due diligence to understand the costs of taking on that facility. It probably needs some work just to get it up to usability, and there’s the cost of maintaining it. We will want to get input on what people are thinking, what they want the lighthouse to become, what they would want us to do with it. There are a lot of unanswered questions at this point.”
However, most lighthouse aficionados think it’s a no brainer, especially from the large number of people who waited in long lines to get into the lighthouse during its Open House in September of last year. The keeper’s house would make a great museum, and tower tours and an onsite gift shop could generate money for the care of the lighthouse. However, the biggest problem the lighthouse faces is parking. The parking lot there is small, and with a narrow road going in and out, there will need to be a place for additional parking to accommodate the thousands who visit the site.
It is one of the most visited and photographed places of the area, and for many it is synonymous with Acadia National Park, which averages well over 2 million visitors per year; the 2017 season broke all previous records.
In 2012, as part of the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful Series of 25-cent coins, the Acadia National Park quarter featured Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse even though the lighthouse is not officially in the park. Also proving its popularity, in 2016 as part of its National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary, the U.S. Postal Service issued a “Forever” stamp that featured Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse; again this was done even though the lighthouse is and was not officially in Acadia National Park.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2017 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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