When the first settlers arrived in North America there were so many lobsters they would wash ashore and pile up two feet deep. They were considered “poor man’s protein.”
Native Americans used lobsters for fertilizer and fish bait. They baked them under seaweed over hot rocks, thus starting the New England Clambakes we enjoy today.
In the beginning lobsters were gathered by hand. In the late 1700s boats called smacks with saltwater tanks were used to transport live lobsters. The men who ran these boats were called “smackmen.” In the mid-19th century lobster traps were first used in Maine.
Lobster were so inexpensive they were fed to prisoners, apprentices, slaves and children during colonial times. These people became tired of being fed lobster!
The first lobster pound started in 1876 in Vinalhaven, Maine. By the 1880s lobster became popular in Boston and New York and the prices started to rise.
American lobster, or Maine lobster, can weigh more than 40 pounds and be up to 3 feet long. The largest lobster on record was caught off Nova Scotia and believed to have been over 100 years old. It weighed 44 pound and was 42 inches long.
The lobster stands out for its unusual anatomy. Its brain is located in its throat, nervous system in its abdomen, teeth in its stomach and kidneys in its head! Lobsters hear with their legs and taste with their feet. They can be right-clawed or left-clawed and favor that claw.
If crowded into tanks they become cannibalistic and eat each other. Their claws need to be banded to prevent this situation.
Lobsters are a very healthy food with fewer calories than an !equal portion of skinned chicken. They offer healthy omega-3 fatty acids, potassium and vitamins E, B-12 and B-6. Maine Lobster is on or menu nightly at Ocean Point served many delicious ways from our famous Lobster Stew, to Linekin Bay Stuffed Lobster.
What amazing creatures they are
The Seguin Lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington in 1795. It is Maine’s tallest and second oldest light station, a short boat ride from Ocean Point Inn. For more than two centuries this lighthouse has been a very important guide to ships on the Maine coast and entering the Kennebec River. Even earlier in 1607 the English settlers of the Popham Colony anchored at the island before landing on the mainland.
Samuel de Champlain sailed past Seguin in 1612 and thought the island looked like a giant tortoise. The word Seguin is said to be from an Indian word that means “where the sea vomits.” Others claim it is from an Indian word that means hump.
In February of 1794 ten acres of land was ceded to the Federal Government from the state of Massachusetts as Maine was then part of Massachusetts. In 1796 Major John Polereczky, a Hungarian Hussar and count who was born in France, was appointed the first keeper at a salary of $200.00 per year. He served for eight years, twice requesting a raise and both times being denied.
A fog bell was added in 1837 and an automatic striking machine was added in 1854. In 1857 a new tower was constructed and Fresnel lens were installed.
Over a 31 year time the island was foggy 15% of the time. In 1907 a record was set for fogginess. 2,374 hours or 31% of the year was foggy.
Like many lighthouses in Maine near Ocean Point Inn, Seguin Island has lots of ghost stories. Keepers told of furniture moving by itself and doors shutting on their own. One tale involves a 19tth century keeper’s wife who played the same tune over and over on the piano. The keeper was eventually driven insane and he destroyed the piano with an axe, then killed his wife and himself. Legend says the tune can be heard drifting from the island on a calm night.
Seguin Island is 2.5 miles off the mouth of the Kennebec River near Popham Beach State Park. Take a tour of the tower and relive the memories. Below are boats which will take you to the island. A great day trip!
Seguin Island Ferry Popham, Maine (207) 841-7977
Atlantic Seal Cruises Freeport, Maine (207)865-6112
River Run Tours Bath, Maine (207)504-2628
HalVal Charters Boothbay Harbor, Maine (207)3198123
The tower and keeper’s house were constructed in 1827 but neither lasted very long. This may have been because the builder used salt water to mix the lime mortar. The second tower, built using only fresh water, was completed in 1835. A new wooden frame keeper’s house was added in 1857. The tower was upgraded with a Fresnal lamp at about the same time. The same lamp is being used today and can been seen as far away as 14 nautical miles.
At first the beacon was lighted by whale oil and then by kerosene. The other brick building was the bell house. When fog was first sighted, the keeper would ring the bell by hand. Later a system using weights was installed.
Eventually electricity was added and the beacon was automated in 1934. No longer was a keeper living on the island necessary.
In 1940 the Coast Guard transferred the 7 acre site to the Town of Bristol, everything but the tower. The lighthouse is now part of the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park and many people visit it in the summer
Ram Island Light is located in Fisherman’s Passage off Ocean Point at the entrance to Boothbay Harbor. Back in the mid-19th century a fisherman began hanging a lantern. This tradition was passed on for many years from one fisherman to another.
During the period when there were no lights, the local people told of ghosts warning the ships off the dangerous rocks. One such tale is of a sailor approaching the rocks and seeing a woman waving a torch above her head. He turned just in time to avoid the rocks.
Ram Island was first lighted on November 5, 1883. The first keeper was Samuel Cavanor from Nova Scotia and he stayed until he died in 1913. He lived on the island with his wife and five children and the children went to school in Boothbay. Mr. Cavanor had a wooden leg as a result of an accident on a lighthouse tender.
Ram Island Light became automated in 1965 and last keeper was removed. In 1983 the building was going to be torn down. The Grand Banks Schooner Museum Trust saved the building. The Ram Island Preservation Society restored the house. In 2002 they restored the walkway to the light that had been destroyed many years before.
Ghost stories continuee and some say on very dark nights the spector of a shipwreck victim can be seen wandering the island!! Visiting Ram Island Lighthouse is a great day trip while staying at Ocean Point Inn
The Burnt Island Light, built in 1821, is the second oldest surviving lighthouse in Maine. It operates a Living History Museum and was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Burnt Island Light Station on November 23, 1977.
Burnt Island is at the western entrance to Boothbay Harbor and visible from Ocean Point. The name came from the fact they burned the island vegetation so it would be clear for sheep grazing. In 1885 the keeper had pigs, chickens and cows in addition to sheep.
In March of 1821 funds were designated to build a light and the land was purchased soon after. A tower of granite rubble lined with brick was built along with a stone Keeper’s House. A system of whale oil lamps and reflectors was used. The stone Keeper’s House was replaced with a wood house in 1851 and is still there. At this time Fresnel lens were installed changing the lighting of the beacon.
Originally there was a fixed white light that was to attract ships to the harbor, not warn them of danger! In 1988 the light was blocked in a sector to the southwest to prevent it being seen by ships coming up the coast before clearing Cuckolds. A year later it was changed again. This time a fixed red with two white sectors were created to indicate safe passage on either side of Squirrel Island. This caused confusion with Ram Island Light which was built in 1883. Therefore, in 1901 the fixed light was replaced with a rotating beacon that had a lens on each face. The lens lasted until 1962 when it was replaced with an electric beacon. It was the last lighthouse in Maine to be converted from kerosene. The station was automated in 1988.
In 1988 the island and light station were transferred to State of Maine Department of Marine Resources. The buildings have been restored as closely as possible to the 1950’s condition. In 2003 a living history program was started.
A trip to this island is a “must do” during your stay at Ocean Point Inn. Call the Balmy Days at 207-633-2284 to find out the schedule of “The Novelty” and rates. It is a 2 1/2 trip with two hours on the island. Wonderful experience for all ages!
There is a very special book written by Robert McKay called “Percival the Lighthouse Mouse.” A great gift for young children, especially if they get to go to the island.
In 1891 the Lighthouse Board wrote, “The Cuckolds consist of two rocky islets rising about 15 feet above high water in the westerly edge of the channel at Booth Bay.”
The Atlantic Coast Pilot said they were a great danger to the three to four thousand vessels that entered the bay for refuge in Booth Bay and recommended a fog-signal be placed there.
The cost for a keeper’s house, fog signal house, cistern and equipment was estimated at $25,000. Congress appropriated the amount in March of 1891 and work began in January of 1892.
The station had to be built to withstand very heavy storms. The foundation was made of granite. Materials included 105 yards of granite masonry, 60,000 bricks, 430 casks of cement, 100 tons of sand, 200 tons of stones, 70,000 feet of lumber and 3,400 pounds of iron work. This huge amount of materials was carried on the lighthouse tender, Myrtle. Work was completed on November 16, 1892.
In 1895 a 1000 pound bell was installed to be used when air pressure was building. In 1902 “a modern apparatus operated by oil engines” replaced the “old hot-air fog-signal.” In 1907 a small tower and lantern room were added.
On January 27 and 28 of 1933, a nor’easter struck the Cuckolds doing a great deal of damage. The lighthouse was automated in 1974.
The lighthouse keeper’s dwelling has been successfully rebuilt. In June 2014, the beautifully restored lighthouse opened to overnight guests as the Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse. You can see Cuckold’s Light from Ocean Point Inn.
Frank Sinatra was originally cast to play Billy Bigelow in the movie “Carousel” filmed in Boothbay Harbor in 1956. The cast knew they had to film some scenes twice, one for regular Cinemascope and the other for Cinemascope 55. Sinatra claimed he was only paid to film one movie and walked away from the set saying, “You are not getting two Sinatras for the price of one!”
Warren Barnes, the owner of the Ocean Point Inn in 1956, had the Inn maintenance man take two leather suitcases, stencil F.S. on them and place them in front of the Inn. This caused quite a stir with the Ocean Pointers who thought the star was staying at the Inn.
Helen Hayes stayed at the Inn when she was narrator of an NBC special on Rachel Carson and her book, “A Silent Spring.” They used the lily pond as the backdrop for the credits.
Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley came to dinner at the Ocean Point Inn to escape the crush of fans in town. They were a glamor couple at the time and had good fun with our staff signing autographs and even checks. It was said they were guests of Paul McCartney on his yacht.
Local celebs who spend their summers in the area include Robert Duvall and former NFL commissioner Paul Taglibus on Squirrel Island and the Wyeths on Monhegan Island. Walter Cronkite and Charles Kuralt spent many days on their sailing yachts in Boothbay waters. Jimmy Dean’s yacht, The Big Bad John, and the Chicago Blackhawks’s owner’s yacht, Blackhawk were annual visitors to Boothbay Harbor near Ocean Point Inn.