Historic Information

In the early 1800s, mariners involved in fishing and maritime trade were in need of a navigational aid to guide them safely in and out of the Sheepscot River. This commercially important waterway was their vital link between the Gulf of Maine and the inland port of Wiscasset, a town recognized at that time to be the busiest seaport north of Boston. Just fifteen miles upriver, a deep and sheltered harbor formed the hub of a prosperous trade center renowned for shipbuilding, lumber, and fish.

Rough seas, frequent fog, and submerged ledges posed tremendous threats to transport vessels and fishing boats. Hence, sea captains, fishermen, and businessmen alike petitioned the Federal government for a lighthouse. President John Quincy Adams responded to their plea by authorizing $5,000 to build the beacon in 1829. The first structure, pictured to the right, was replaced in 1875 by a two-story dwelling and a separate square, brick tower.

The first lighthouse was surmounted on dwelling’s roof with a lantern of early birdcage design. The rough-cut stone to construct building was most likely harvested on-site. (Courtesy National Archives)

Why Was This Lighthouse Named Hendricks Head?

After passing south of Seguin Island Light, mariners can head straight for Hendricks Head Light avoiding many dangerous rocks and ledges. Once in the Sheepscot River, they safely travel north to fishing harbors and to the trade and shipbuilding center of Wiscasset.

Who was the person associated with not only the name of the lighthouse, but a harbor, road, hill, and museum – all on Southport Island? According to the Lighthouse Friends’ website, it appears that in 1735 Nathaniel Hendricks swapped his land holdings in Arundel for property on Southport, Island presumably this promontory known as Hendricks Head. In 1829, the U.S. Government purchased the 9 acre, 26 rod site from Jonathan Pierce for $200.

Then & Now – What Changes Have Occurred ?

In 1875, the 46year-old stone dwelling, with the surmounted lighthouse, was replaced with this set of buildings. The Annual Report stated: “It is now in such an advanced state of dilapidation and decay that it has become uninhabitable.” It’s possible that contractor Berry failed to follow Supt. Chandler’s mortar-mixing instructions of good lime, fresh water, and sand that hadn’t been exposed to saltwater.

Notice two of the buildings shown in this photo are gone. The boathouse located near the shore had a 110 foot long boat-slip to launch the keeper’s dory was destroyed by a storm in 1978 destroyed. All that remains is a rusty, old, hand-winch seen here in the foreground. The shed-like structure beyond the boathouse was a barn for the keeper’s horse and buggy, serving as both a stable and fuel house.

Built in1875, this square, brick lighthouse sets on the southern edge of the Hendricks Head peninsula. Its whitewash coating makes it stand out as a daymark by day. At night, the lighthouse casts its beam 43 feet above sea level, starting as a solid white light then switching to a revolving one in 1855. As a cost-saving measure, the government extinguished the light in 1935 prior to its sale, but reactivated it in 1951 after its private owner brought electricity to the peninsula.

When the Hendricks Head Light Station was decommissioned, its fog signal was also deactivated and replaced by a nearby bell buoy. The pyramidal structure to the left of the lighthouse is the bell tower. A mechanism within the structure allowed the keeper to crank weights up a square, chamber once located outside of the tower. Like a grandfather’s clock, the falling weight activated a hammer that struck the bell every 20 seconds for 7 hours after a single winding,

Circa 1890 – Note the covered way that allowed protective passage from the house to the bell tower.  Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard
Night Light 2017 – Note the changes in the keeper’s dwelling. Courtesy of Photographer David Zapatka

What Interesting Legends Are Associated With Hendricks Head?

Baby Washes Ashore in a Mattress
Shep the Lighthouse Dog's Rescue
Lady Ghost of Hendricks Head

Interactive Hotspots

Press the red star on the photo to the right to learn about each component of the light station.

HH aerial for interactive


Hendricks Head Light Station - West Southport Island, Maine

The best way to see Hendicks Head Lighthouse is at the Hendricks Head Beach on Beach Rd in Southport. The lighthouse is privately owned, so please do not go down the private lane to it. Remain on the beach or hope aboard a tour boat from Boothbay Harbor. Follow Route 27 S. across the bridge onto Southport Island and bear right until reaching the Southport General Store (monument in front). Turn right then an immediate left onto Beach Rd until you arrive at the beach.