Digest>Archives> April 1997

Ceremony highlights Maine Lights program

By Timothy Harrison


You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Maine's Governor Angus King accepts the symbolic ...

In a ceremony held in Maine's State Capitol Building, Maine's Governor, Angus King, accepted a giant brass key ring with the symbolic brass keys to 36 of Maine's lighthouses in what Coast Guard officials called the "largest lighthouse conveyance in U.S. history."

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Governor Angus King of Maine proudly displays the ...

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Maine's Governor King hands over the symbolic ...

The ceremony, although purely symbolic, was truly an historic event in the annals of U.S. lighthouse history.

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
This beautiful quilt, used as the backdrop for ...

You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Retired Rear Admiral Richard Rybacki, USCG ...

With a beautiful lighthouse quilt as the backdrop, Gov. King accepted the ceremonial keys from the Coast Guard. The Governor had referred to the song "I've Seen the Light" and what a wonderful emotional song it was, a song that anyone from Maine responds to and how lighthouses "are the signature part of the state." He then passed the keys on to Rear Admiral Richard Rybacki (ret), Chairman of the Selection Panel that will eventually decide who gets the 36 lighthouses.

After thanking the Governor for nominating him for the position, Rybacki introduced the other members of the selection committee and explained briefly the areas they represented. He then gave an excellent summary of The Maine Lights Program, how the selection process would work and the determining factors that would eventually decide who would eventually get the 36 lighthouses under the plan. He also announced that a major lighthouse conference would be scheduled for the month of June and the Committee would make its first designations of entities to receive lighthouses by February 1998.

When one of the reporters asked, "Why would somebody want one of these lighthouses? . . . I have never been aware of these lighthouses ...," Gov. King quickly stepped up to the microphone and shrewdly said to the audience, "He probably came here from southern Illinois!" As the room roared with laughter the Governor quipped, "Maybe we should send some lighthouses to those folks." Apparently this TV reporter had not been listening to anything that had previously been said.

Admiral Rybacki was then quick to step in and looking direct at the reporter said, "Lighthouses are part of our heritage. Where Maine is represented in the various media, you will always have a picture of one of our lighthouses." He then went on to explain the obvious reasons why people love lighthouses.

Governor King also reminded everyone that Maine is also home to the Shore Village Museum in Rockland, which has the largest collection of lighthouse lenses anywhere as well as other lighthouse artifacts, "a great place it is to visit."

The Maine Lights program is being administered by The Island Institute, a non profit conservation organization located in Rockland, Maine. The plan was the brainchild of Peter Ralston of the Institute and it was largely through his efforts that this "first of its kind" program became law.

Under the plan many of the lighthouses will go to entities that are already running them. What this basically means is that the Coast Guard will no longer hold title to the property, the titles will be transferred to various communities and non profit groups. An example would be Seguin Island Light where the Friends of Seguin Island already have a lease from the Coast Guard to restore and maintain the lighthouse. They will now actually own it. Another example is Nubble Light which is currently leased by the Coast Guard to the town of York and under the plan they will actually get title to the property. None of the lighthouses will go to private individuals.

This story appeared in the April 1997 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.

to Lighthouse Digest

USLHS Marker Fund

Lighthouse History
Research Institute

Shop Online

Subscribe   Contact Us   About Us   Copyright Foghorn Publishing, 1994- 2024   Lighthouse Facts     Lighthouse History