Nubble Light Quick Facts
Year Station Established: 1879
Is the Light operational? Yes
Year Light First Lit: 1879
Year Automated: 1987
Tower Height: 41 ft.
Original Optic: 4th Order, Fresnel
Present Optic: 4th Order, Fresnel
Existing Keepers Quarters? Yes
Year Constructed: 1879
Number of Stories: 2
Architectural Style: Victorian
Construction Materials: Wood
Cape Neddick "Nubble" Lighthouse
(12 photos, 215KB total download)
Cape Neddick "Nubble" Lighthouse Videos
Last Visited: June, 2005
The Cape Neddick Lighthouse stands on Nubble Island about 200 yards off Cape Neddick Point. The lighthouse is commonly known as "Nubble Light" or simply, "The Nubble." Cape Neddick Point is located at the north end of Long Beach in the village of York Beach. This lighthouse, too, is inaccessible but the nearby mainland is occupied by Sohier Park which offers ample parking, a telescope and a welcome center which sells "Nubble" gift items.
Long before the current surge in the popularity of lighthouses, Nubble Light had become a famous American icon. In 1977 NASA launched the Voyager, which flew fly by Jupiter and kept on going into outer space. The probe carries photographs of Earth's most prominent manmade structures and natural features, just in case it should fall into the hands of "intelligent" creatures. Photos of the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon are accompanied by a photo of Nubble Light. What will they make of that?
Cape Neddick Lighthouse was first established in 1879 although plans had been in the works to build a lighthouse on the site since 1837. The tower is lined with brick and sheathed with cast-iron. It stands 41 feet tall but the light is 88 feet above sea level because of the additional height of the steep rocky island on which it is located. The stanchions of the walkway railing around the lantern room are decorated with 4 inch brass replicas of the light house itself. Decorations on such utilitarian buildings are rare and so far no story has been unearthed about how this charming touch was added. Replicas of the replicas are currently being produced in brass from the original mold which was found in a Coast Guard warehouse. These items are available at the welcome center at Sohier Park.
Although the origin of the little lighthouse adornments is unknown, there are many other stories about The Nubble. Among them is the story of the keeper and his wife who, in 1912, decided to take advantage of the booming tourist business at the York beaches. They developed a lively business ferrying tourists across to the island and giving tours. The trade grew so lively that the light was neglected and the keeper fired. Another keeper lived on the island with his 19 pound cat who was an attraction in himself, especially when he reputedly swam across the channel to visit mainland friends. It isn't always summer, though, and another story lends balance to lighthouse living. The Nubble is such a windy spot that in the winter, the wind chill dropped so low that the flow of lamp oil to the incandescent kerosene vapor lamp was impeded. The problem was solved in 1938 when the lamp was electrified. That same year, the keeper and his family also received indoor plumbing.
The town of York has been raising funds since 1987 for protection and restoration of the Cape Neddick Lighthouse and many improvements have been made, including the addition of gingerbread trim on the keeper's cottage. Though an immensely popular tourist attraction, the lighthouse is still functioning and can be seen for 13 nautical miles.
In the winter evenings during the Christmas holiday season viewers get an added treat by seeing the lighthouse outlined by white lights and a Christmas tree in the main window facing the park. Visitors should be prepared for the weather though - night viewings during the winter can be very cold and windy. For those who don't want to brave the cold the town of York recreate the winter lighting of the lighthouse and keeper's house for a short time during the summer.
Nearest Address: 8 Sohier Park Road, York Beach, ME
- From Route 1 south of York, take Route 1 north and turn onto York St.
- Take York St. 4.9 miles along Long Sands Beach. Just after the beach turn right onto Nubble Road.
- Stay on Nubble Rd. for about 1/2 mile then turn right into Sohier Park.
- As an added treat, once you're done viewing the lighthouse, as you leave the parking lot, take a right and follow the road no more than 1/4 of a mile to get an ice cream cone at Brown's ice cream stand. It's the best ice cream in the area!
View Larger Map