Digest>Archives> December 2004

Lantern Repairs at West Quoddy Head Light

By Paul Coover


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Notice anything different at the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine? Well, probably not, at least without a close inspection. But this past fall the lighthouse had a major renovation completed on its lantern room. The top of the lighthouse was actually in extremely poor condition.

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The red and white striped lighthouse sits on the easternmost point of land in the United States. The current tower was built in 1858. The lantern room and third order Fresnel lens are original, also dating back to 1858. Although from the outside the lighthouse looks to be in excellent shape, there was quite a lot of work needed to insure a long life for the candy-striped beacon.

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Some of the work that was done included the replacing of the copper dome on top, repairing the corroded cast iron frame, replacing missing drain spouts, and replacing all the lantern glass. The paint in the lantern room contained lead, which also had to be removed. Some of the lantern deck was badly rusted, so the rust was removed and all surfaces were repainted.

The lighthouse tower and grounds belong to the State of Maine, but the Coast Guard owns the lantern room and lens. Marsha Levy, the architect at Civil Engineering Unit Providence, RI, inspected the lantern room last summer and assessed the needed repairs for the lighthouse.

“The lantern is in very poor condition,” explained Levy before the work took place. “ A hail storm that occurred in the past 40 years severely damaged the copper dome. It is covered with thousands of indentations, some deep enough to penetrate the surface. The

surface is also dented and deformed.” These conditions rendered the copper dome beyond repair.

“There is also severe damage from galvanic corrosion,” said Levy. The galvanic corrosion resulted from the copper dome and the cast iron of the lantern room not being adequately separated. “In the 19th

century it was common practice to install copper on iron framing without adequately separating the two metals,” Levy added. The Statue of Liberty had to have similar repairs done to stop galvanic corrosion almost 20 years ago.

The job was a very difficult and expensive task, costing a total of $176,000. The Campbell Construction Group of Beverly, Massachusetts, did the work. The company has worked on almost 20 lighthouses, including Petit Manan and Dice Head in Maine and Annisquam and Baker’s Island lights in Massachusetts. Recently they completed work on the oil house at Portsmouth Harbor Light in

New Hampshire.

Marty Nally of Campbell Construction was in charge of this job and also worked on all the previously mentioned jobs. “This place is a beautiful location,” said Marty. “I have seen some wonderful places in working on these sites,” Marty added. I think we all agree with him.

This story appeared in the December 2004 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.

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