Maine’s Burnt Island Lighthouse, which has been guiding mariners since 1821, although continuing that mission, now has a new mission as a “Living History Museum” thanks to the guiding efforts of Elaine Jones who had the foresight to envision a unique future for the historic lighthouse.
Now after nearly five years of hard work and dedication she saw her dream come true with the dedication of the “Burnt Island Living Lighthouse” this past June 20th. Over 300 people, including many dignitaries such as Maine’s Governor John Baldacci and famous artist Jamie Wyeth, made the trek to the five acre island off the picturesque Boothbay Harbor on Maine’s lower mid coast.
Under Elaine’s guidance, leadership and persistence, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred under the Maine Lights Program in 1988 to the Maine Department of Marine Resources. And that’s when the sweat began.
For those that visited the island back in 1988 and returned for this rededication it was amazing to see what had been accomplished in those nearly 5 long years. Unfortunately, first time visitors will never be able to fully understand all that has been done to make this island lighthouse station one of the finest examples of an outdoor educational system at a lighthouse in the country.
Addressing the crowd, Governor Baldacci said that the people of Maine can be proud of what was done here saying, “This is a great day for Maine,” referring to the educational resources on the island that is second to none, he went on to say, “A lot of hard work by a lot of different people was needed to accomplish this task, something that Maine is known for, people pulling together to accomplish a job.” Elaine couldn’t agree more, as she acknowledged all those who helped with volunteer work, state employees who went above and beyond, and those who furnished grant money and outright other donations.
However, keynote speaker Jamie Wyeth made sure the proper credit was given to Elaine Jones when, in his remarks, he compared Elaine to Abbie Burgess, Maine famous lighthouse heroine, in how she took on the task of bringing life to an island light station, as did Abbie many years ago at Matinicus and Whitehead Lights.
With a new docking system now in place, Burnt Island Lighthouse is now open to the public for tours on Monday thru Friday until Sept. 26 with tours leaving Boothbay Harbor twice per day. For more information on visiting Burnt Island Lighthouse call the Maine Department of Marine Resources at 207-633-9559 or Balmy Day Cruises at 207-633-2384.
This story appeared in the
August 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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