Keeping the Lights On Since 1879
How did the Nubble Lighthouse get its name?
The dictionary definition of a nub is “a small lump or protuberance” and that makes a nubble a little nub.
To me, the word always sounded like a cross between a nub and a pile of rubble!
For the town of York, it's a rocky bit of an island off the easternmost point of Cape Neddick, so the official name of this light station is the Cape Neddick Light Station.
Since the early 1800's, sailors of these waters had requested that a light be built here. Many years and many shipwrecks later, in 1876, Congress finally spent $15,000 for the construction of a lighthouse.
The tower, which stands 41 feet tall, was made of cast iron and lined with brick. The distinctive red light was lit for the first time on July 1, 1879. Originally, there was a huge fog bell, which could be heard for miles. It was later replaced with a foghorn.
From 1879 to 1987, when it was became automated, families lived in that house. Cows and chickens were kept in the yard on the island, babies were born there, a lightkeeper's daughter was married in the lantern room itself, and keeper's children were sent to school in the morning by means of a wooden basket suspended over the channel. It was a home filled with visitors, children, animals, food and laughter.
Today, the lighthouse stands alone and apart – an icon instead of a home.
It's one of the most photographed lighthouses in the universe, literally. In 1977, NASA sent the Voyager II to outer space. To teach potential extraterrestrials about our world, pictures from earth were included. One of those pictures was this enduring piece of old New England.
Part of the wonderful mystique of this spot is that you can get so close, but you can't quite touch - and you'll see why you can't get onto the nubble from this video I shot the morning after a 2010 late February "hurricane" that knocked out power to more than a million people!
...luckily, it's very easy to walk or drive up Nubble Road to Sohier (pronounced “Soy-er”) Park, get an ice cream or dinner at Fox's Lobster House and sit on the benches or rocks or grass and gaze across the narrow channel at the Cape Neddick Light Station.
You can buy souvenirs at the small gift shop, climb on the rocks, bring a picnic lunch, propose to your sweetheart, have your wedding photos taken here, or see it lit up in Christmas lights twice a year (see the Event Calendar of this web site for the dates in November and July/August)...
And even if you live in on the other side of the world, you can keep your eye on our nub with this
live web cam.
If you'd like to see Nubble lighthouse from the ocean, FinestKind Scenic Cruises out of Perkins Cove in Ogunquit takes visitors out four times a day in the summer season on an excursion that includes a very unique vantage point - the back!
My all-time favorite thing to do at Nubble lighthouse? Sit in Sohier Park and watch a full moon rise...
In early September 2009, a writer and photographer from the York Weekly newspaper accompanied the U.S. Coast Guard on a regularly scheduled maintenance inspection of Nubble lighthouse. Click
if you'd like to see some extraordinary photographs taken from the inside of Nubble lighthouse.
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