The West Quoddy candy-striped lighthouse

The Downeast and Arcadia region of Maine has a coastline that has proved to be quite treacherous over the years.  Because there has always been a lot of shipping pass by a number of lighthouses have been built in the Arcadia region.

Once permanently manned by light keepers, the lighthouses are now automatic so many of them have been welcoming tourist as well as warning passing ships of the perilous waters nearby.

Of all the lighthouses in Maine, the one at West Quoddy is probably the brightest.  I’m not referring to the power of its lamp, but its colourful tower which is red and white candy-striped in colour.

The reason for its barber pole-like colouring is because West Quoddy Head is the easternmost point of the United States mainland, so it was coloured that way to stand out from the more traditional white lighthouses.

The tower is 49 feet (15 metres) high with a circumference at its base of  16 feet (4.88m) narrowing down to 14 feet (4.27m) at its top.  Capping the tower is the light room itself which contains a 1000 watt bulb that is visible for 15-18 miles (24-29kms) out to see.

Electricity is a far more reliable light source than the sperm whale oil and lard which used to be used to warn ships of danger.

The tower is constructed from red brick and the eight red stripes alternate with eight white stripes which give the tower its individualistic look.

Nowadays, the light keeper’s residence is a visitors centre where you can learn all about the operations of the West Quoddy Lighthouse and purchase souvenirs.  The complex also contains an art gallery .

West Quoddy Lighthouse is located near the town of Lubec, Maine.  To reach it, get off U.S. Rt.1 North (from Ellsworth) or U.S. Rt.1 South (from Calais) take Rt.189 east to Lubec, follow signs to Quoddy Head State Park and/or the Lighthouse Visitor Centre.  Admission is free.

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