Early Morning in Camden, Maine

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a morning person - at all! - but while on vacation on the Maine coast, I was bound and determined to get up early at least one morning to try to take some pictures of the sun rising over Penobscot Bay.  After all, the place that we were staying at in Lincolnville had beautiful views of the bay so it would have been a shame not to at least make the attempt.  To that end, I managed to drag myself out of bed just before sunrise on the day that we drove up to Acadia and catch a few shots of the sun making its appearance for the day.

The Sun Rising
Penobscot Bay Sunrise
The Sun Rising Over Penobscot Bay

As you can see, I definitely need some more practice with sunrises but I think that's going to have to wait until spring as right now it's not only too darned early in the morning but it's too darned cold to be outside with my camera in the pre-dawn hours!  Besides, we've got nothing here in Norwich that's as pretty as the sunrises in Maine.  Sorry, Rose City! 

Anyhow, while I was up and about, I decided to jump into the car and head down towards the town of Camden proper in the hopes of finding a decent spot to take some pictures of one of the local lighthouses.  I figured that it was still way too early for most folks to be up (Jamie and my Mom were both still snoozing comfortably) so chances were good there wouldn't be much traffic and I could easily find my way through Camden's streets to the spot that I had read about in one of the Maine tourist guides.  On my way, though, I stopped to take some pictures of Camden Harbor which is a very pretty spot in the early morning with boats sitting peacefully in water that almost looked like glass. 

The Stillness of Camden Harbor
A view of Camden Harbor
Ships in Camden Harbor

In the picture below, you can see the Camden Hills in the background - one of the features that makes Camden "The Jewel of the Maine Coast" and #6 on the Yankee Magazine list of Top 25 Foliage Towns in New England (tied with Waitsfield, Vermont).  Honestly, I don't think it could have been much more picturesque if I had asked it to be and I can definitely see why the population of the town more than triples every summer when people flock there as summer residents and tourists.  I promise to show you some more of the town in another post and I bet you'll think it's quite quaint, too!

Boats in Camden Harbor

So, anyhow, the lighthouse that I was looking for on that clear and rather cool October morning is one that sits on an island to the entrance of Camden Harbor and is supposedly rather hard to photograph from land.  Apparently the preferred method is via boat but I wasn't about to steal one of those pretty sailboats in the harbor and try to navigate my way out to the lighthouse!  Instead I had read up on how to get to a pretty decent vantage point on dry land but first, I had to find the tree below ...

Sign to Curtis Lighthouse Overlook

Driving up Bay View Street, I only got turned around once before I located the spot where I could park the car just off the road and then walk down a short trail where I finally got a view of Curtis Island Lighthouse.

Curtis Island Light

Curtis Island Light is located on a five-acre island that sits just offshore in Camden Harbor facing Penobscot Bay. Reportedly named after an African cook who lived there, the island was originally known as Negro Island and in 1835 the first brick lighthouse to occupy the island was built by George Galt of Massachusetts for $4,500 by order of President Andrew Jackson.

Curtis Island LighthouseIn 1889, the current wooden farmhouse-style keeper’s residence was constructed along with a barn and boathouse and in 1895 an oil house was added.  A year later, in 1896, the original lighthouse was replaced by the present 25-foot brick tower and a Fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed.

The name of the island was changed to its current moniker of Curtis Island in 1934 in memory of Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis who was a longtime summer resident of Camden and founder of the Curtis Publishing Company which published the Ladies' Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post as well as several other magazines.  Mr. Curtis, who is at #20 on the The Wealthy 100: A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present gave the town of Camden the land and building that is now the Camden Yacht Club where he was has the distinction of being its longest-serving commodore - something that I'm sure Commodore Sandee can appreciate!

Curtis Island Light

In 1972 the lighthouse was automated during which time modern optics replaced the original Fourth-order Fresnel lens which was removed and put on display at the nearby Camden Library. Shortly after that, the Town of Camden officially took over the property, with the exception of the light tower which is maintained by the Coast Guard. The current light is a fixed-green, occulted 300-mm solar-powered lens with a range of 6 nautical miles that was installed in 1994 and is an active aid to navigation in the very busy Camden Harbor,

Camden Harbor Marker Light

Curtis Island Light was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 17th, 1973 and though the grounds are maintained as a park by the Town of Camden, visitors must provide their own transportation to get there.  Also, should you manage to get over to Curtis Island, please be advised that neither the light tower nor the keeper's house are open to the public!   Still, I bet they make for some really nice pictures close up rather than from across the harbor on the main land ... or is that the "Maine" land?

Curtis Island Lighthouse


  1. You are amazing! Your photography...your writing... Thank you so much for sharing


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