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Name: Whaleback Light   Map it!

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Also known as: Whaleback Ledge Light

Nearest Town or City:
Kittery, Maine, United States

Location: Entrance to the Piscataqua River, approach to Portsmouth (NH) Harbor .

Click to enlarge: Photo   
Photo: Jeremy D'Entremont
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Managing Organization:
American Lighthouse Foundation


This lighthouse was licensed to the American Lighthouse Foundation in October 2005. Then, in 2007, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the nonprofit American Lighthouse Foundation. It is now managed by its chapter, The Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses.

Tower Height: 50

Height of Focal Plane: 59

Characteristic and Range: Two white flashes every 10 seconds.

Description of Tower: Conical granite tower with black cast iron lantern.

This light is operational

Other Buildings?

Earlier Towers?
1831: 48-foot stone tower.

Date Established: 1831

Date Present Tower Built: 1872

Date Automated: 1963

Optics: 1855: Fourth order Fresnel lens (now at Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, MA); later DCB-224; 2002: VRB-25.

Fog Signal: 1859: Fog bell; 1872: Daboll fog trumpet; now automated horn with two blasts every 30 seconds.

Current Use: Active aid to navigation.

Open To Public? No.

Whaleback Ledge Light can be seen from a number of locations in Kittery (Maine) and New Castle (NH). One of the best views is from Kittery's Fort Foster. From US Route 1 North: Turn right on ME 103 (Walker Street). Turn left at Wentworth Avenue. Turn right at Whipple Road and drive past the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Continue as Route 103 becomes Pepperell Road, then Tenney Hill Road. Turn right at Gerrish Island Lane. Drive over a concrete bridge. Bear right at Pocahontas Road to the Fort Foster entrance. Fort Foster is open all year, 10 am to 8 pm. There are parking fees in the summer. The lighthouse can also be seen from Fort Stark at the end of Wild Rose Lane, off Route 1B, in New Castle, NH. Whaleback Ledge Light is also visible from tour boats leaving Portsmouth. The Isles of Shoals Stemship Company runs a variety of cruises from May to October; call (603) 431-5500 or (800) 441-4620 for information. Portsmouth Harbor Cruises also has tours that pass the lighthouse; call (603) 436-8084. And the Seacoast NH Trolley provides narrated tours of the area, including vantage points providing views of Whaleback Ledge Light. Call (603) 431-6975 or (800) 828-3672 for information.

Mapquest URL: Click here to get a map to this lighthouse!

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Keepers: Samuel E. Hascall (Haskell) (1831-1839); Joseph L. Locke (1839-1840); Zachariah Chickering (1840); John Kennard (1840); Joseph D. Currier (1841); Eliphalet Grover (1841-1843); J. Prentiss Locke (1843-?); Richard R. Lock (Locke?) (c. 1847); Jedediah Rand (1849-1853)l Reuben T. Leavitt (1853-1859); Oliver P. Tucker (1859-1860); Gustavus A. Abbott (1860-1861); Joel P. Reynolds (1861-1864); Edward Parks (assistant, 1863-1864); Nathaniel P. Campbell (1864); Ambrose Card (assistant, then keeper 1864); Gilbert Amee (assistant 1864, then keeper 1864-1869); Mrs. M. M. Amee (assistant, 1864-1867); Isaac W. Chauncy (assistant, 1867-1868); James W. Varney (1869-1871); Ferdinand Barr (assistant 1868-1871, became keeper 3/22/1871, drowned 6/18/1871); Emily F. Barr (assistant, 1871); William H. Caswell (1871-1872); Frank P. Caswell (assistant, 1871-1872); Chandler Martin (1872-1878); George R. Frost (assistant, 1872-1873); Frank L. Chauncey (assistant, 1873 and 1876-1880); John L. A. Martin (John Q. A. Martn?) (assistant 1874-1876); Leander White (1878-1887); John W. Lewis (assistant 1880-1882); Brackett Lewis (assistant 1883-1885); Ellison C. White (assistant 1885-1887, principal keeper 1887-1888); James M. Haley (1888-1893); Daniel Stevens (assistant 1887-1890); John W. Robinson (assistant 1890-1892); James Haley (Jr.?) (assistant 1892-1893); Walter S. Amee (1893-1921); Wallace S, Chase (assistant 1893-1894); Alvah J. Tobey (assistant 1894-1899); Joseph A. Pruett (assistant 1896-1897); John W. Wetzel (assistant 1897-1924); John P. Brooks (assistant, 1899-1915); Arnold B. White (1921-1941); W. A. Alley (c. 1935); Maynard F. Farnsworth (c. 1922-1940s, became Coast Guard officer in charge 1941); Charles U. Gardner (relief keeper, c, 1942-1943); Francis D. Hickey (Coast Guard, c. 1956-1957); Robert Brann (c. 1959); James R. Pope (1959-1962).

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