Friday, May 10, 2019

Owl’s Head Lighthouse, Part l

Owl's Head Lighthouse

Owl’s Head is considered one of Maine’s most beautiful Lighthouses. It is at the south entrance to Rockland Harbor and is surrounded by water.

This lighthouse was built in 1824 and sits on seventeen and a half pine-covered acres. The tower is only 15 feet high, but its light can be seen for 18 miles because it sits atop a high cliff.

The original tower was replaced in 1895.

It is still in use today with an automated light. To reach the top of the tower, visitors must climb a 50 step steep staircase, but this climb is worth it for the 360-degree view from this vantage point is spectacular.

Opposite view of Owl's Head.
Owl’s Head like many lighthouses has several fascinating stories connected to it. The following are two of my favorites.

One involves a man and woman found encased in a block of ice.

In the winter of 1850, a small schooner was anchored in the harbor, was caught in the worst snowstorm of the season. The captain had gone ashore leaving his mate, Richard Ingraham, a crewmember, Roger Elliot, and Lydia Dryer, Ingraham’s’ fiancée aboard the ship.

Photo of Owl's Head taken in 1932.
As this storm intensified, the schooner was torn from its mooring and was dashed against the rocks at Owl’s Head. As the boat broke apart, the 3 occupants huddled under blankets to keep warm.

Elliot managed to swim through the frigid water and climb ashore. A keeper, out riding a sleigh found him half-dead and carried him into the lighthouse, where he was able to briefly revive him.

Elliot managed to choke out that two others needed help and then lost consciousness. A search party was formed.

Ingraham and Dryer were found frozen in a block of ice. Their rescuers at first thought they were dead but decided to not give up. They chipped the ice away and poured cold water over the couple.

They then massaged their limbs as they slowly poured warmer and warmer water over them. After one hour, the couple began to show signs of life. After two hours, Ingraham opened his eyes, and in a confused daze started to ask questions.

Months later, the couple regained their health. They married and had four children. As for Elliot, who had alerted the keeper to their whereabouts, he sadly didn’t recover.

Another favorite story of mine involves a dog, named Spot, and a fog bell.

From 1935 to 1945, Gus Hamor was the keeper at Owl’s Head, but it is his springer spaniel that is remembered fondly.

Gus’ two daughters, Pauline and Millie trained Spot to pull the rope that rang the fog bell. Whenever a boat would pass Spot would ring the bell, and then the vessel would respond by blowing their horn.

Spot’s favorite visitor to the lighthouse was, Stuart Ames, the skipper of the mail boat. Ames always gave Spot a special treat when he delivered the mail.

Spot anticipating these visits learned to recognize the sound of Ames’ boat engine and then he would pull the bell.

During one awful winter blizzard the snowdrifts were so high on the cliff they muffled the sounds of the fog bell.

Ames on his boat in the harbor was trying to deliver the mail to the lighthouse, but he couldn’t hear the fog alert, because of this he wasn’t able to determine the position of his vessel. He was afraid his boat would be smashed against the rocky cliff.

Spot heard his engine through this storm and whined and scratched at the door to be let out. When the door was opened, he dashed to the shore and barked loudly until the mail boat’s whistle replied.

Ames, through Spots’ persistence found his way and delivered the mail safely.

In Part ll of Owl’s Head Lighthouse, I share two hauntings connected to this lighthouse.

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