Little Mark Island Monument, Maine

Thanks to Kraig Anderson for supplying this photo of the Little Mark Island Monument in Casco Bay, Maine. The photo was taken in October 2003. Kraig is the webmaster of Lighthouse Friends, a wonderful site with photos and accounts of lighthouses throughout the U.S.

Photo copyright 2003 Kraig Anderson. Used by permission.

Built in 1827, the Little Mark Island Monument is one of about a dozen granite towers built as daymarkers on the New England coast during the nineteenth century. Another fairly well known example, the Bowditch Ledge Daybeacon at Salem, Massachusetts, collapsed in November 2018. Comparing the two, we can see that the Bowditch Ledge monument was built of rough, hand-cut stones, but the Little Mark Island tower is professionally built of dressed granite blocks.

At some point in modern times (no one seems to know the date), the Little Mark Island Monument became a lighted aid to navigation. Is it a lighthouse? It has never been considered a lighthouse in Maine, because this not what Maine lighthouses look like, and it never had a keeper. But if it were located almost anywhere else it would undoubtedly be on the lighthouse lists.

It is a substantial building, about 50 feet tall -- as tall as many Maine lighthouses! There is a large square room inside the base. According to the famous New England lighthouse historian Edward Rowe Snow, this room is called the Mariner's Refuge. It was intended to shelter sailors who wrecked on the island during storms. The room is now used for batteries to power the light. Since the upper part of the tower is solid, the Coast Guard has mounted a ladder on the side to provide access to the lens at the top. The light displays a white flash every four seconds and has a range of five miles. The four sides of the tower are also painted with a black vertical stripe as a daymark.

The Little Mark Island Monument Light is located in Casco Bay about a mile southwest of Bailey Island, at the end of Maine highway 24. It can be seen distantly from Bailey Island, but for a close view you'll need a boat.

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Posted November 18, 2003. Checked and revised April 11, 2020. Site copyright 2020 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.