It may have been a damp and foggy day at Maine’s Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, but that did not stop what was probably the largest crowd ever to gather at the lighthouse to witness history in the making.
And history in the making is what they witnessed with the Official Ceremony of the Release of the Maine State Lighthouse Quarter, which is the first time in history that a lighthouse has appeared on United States money.
It was Tim Harrison, editor of Lighthouse Digest Magazine and president of the non-profit American Lighthouse Foundation who got the crowd fired and warmed up for the Director of the U.S. Mint, Henrietta Holsman Fore and Maine’s Governor John Baldacci.
Although people from all over the United States attended, it was mainly the locals from the communities in proximity to Maine’s historic Pemaquid Point Lighthouse that made up the largest percentage of the crowd.
As the crowd clapped in delight, Harrison exclaimed that “it is not one of the other big lighthouse states such as Michigan or Massachusetts that now has the first lighthouse coin, but Maine and that lighthouse is Pemaquid Point Lighthouse!”
Harrison went on to say, “Who knows, in the future lighthouses may be commonplace on money,’ to which the crowd chuckled, “ but if that would be so,” he continued, “or if this is the only time it will ever happen, you have witnessed it and you are now part of history.”
Maine humorist Tim Sample suggested, in referring to Maine’s poorest county that the state should build a lighthouse every couple of miles or so in that county, populated it with a few moose and the tourists would flock to the area in droves.
Tom Wilcox of the Maine Maritime Museum, another of the event’s speakers in referring to the scene on the quarter said, “More ships were built in Maine through the end of the 1800’s than anywhere else in North America and an artist could have captured the scene on Maine’s quarter almost any day in the 19th century.
The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was ready for the throngs of well-wishers for the historic event. The tower, licensed by the United States Coast Guard, for the last several years, to the American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF) was painted last year by volunteers of New England Lighthouse Lovers (NELL) a chapter of the foundation. It was the newly formed ALF chapter, the Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, who under the direction of local resident Richard “Dick” Melville, restored the entryway building to the tower and installed an informative display on the history of the lighthouse and the U.S. Lighthouse Service.
Although the Friends group had previously opened the tower to the public on a trial run, this was the first day in history that the tower was officially opened to the public for tours.
Following the ceremony, the kids in the crowd received free quarters and volunteers of the Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, gave away free chocolate candies in the image of the new lighthouse quarter and opened the tower for tours.
This story appeared in the
July 2003 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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