Swan's Island, Maine   44˚8'3.49"N 68˚26' 50.44"W

FOSIL Board announces launch of new website

Fran Chetwynd

Friends of the Swan's Island Lighthouse (FOSIL) announces the launch of its new website, www.burntcoatharborlight.com. Features of the website include a "Happenings" strip on the home page for current events and news items. A click on the home page will take you to:

  • About the Light Station, with a brief narrative history of the light station, a time line, and a photo history. This page also has a link to the story of Frank Milan, a boy growing up at the light station in the early 1900s, and other historical articles about life at the light station.
  • Planning a Visit, with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for visitors to the light station and an interactive map showing places of interest at the light station and around the island.
  • Things to Do, with descriptions of light station buildings, nearby hiking trails around Hockamock Head, and notes on other places to visit on Swan's Island. The Things to Do page also features a photo tour of the island.
  • The Restoration Project, with a description of what has been done so far to preserve the light station, what remains to be done, and a shout-out to our institutional donors. This page also includes an invitation to volunteer.

The new site also includes a new and easier procedure for donating online, as well as a sign-in page for FOSIL board members.

Explore and enjoy!

FOSIL Winter Update

Spring is on the way, and summer will not be far behind. Summer means lighthouse projects, so ...here is what is going on with plans for 2013.

Work in progress. Work in progress. Thanks to grants received last fall, a contract is in the works to prepare an engineering workplan for badly needed restoration work on the light tower. Several people are helping prepare interpretive materials on the natural history of Hockamock Head, and pamphlets should be available this summer. The FOSIL website will launch in March. Grant applications in the works, if successful, would provide funds to start restoring the tower (ie, implementing the engineering workplan) and to move the fog bell from the ferry area to Hockamock Head.

Plans for the summer. The keeper's house will be open this summer, with new exhibits, thanks to cooperation between FOSIL, SIES, the Historical Society and others. The Board approved a plan for managing activities at the keeper's house next summer that will involve part time work for two islanders.

On the construction side, the first priority is work on the oceanside porch. The next step will be to install a bathroom and kitchen downstairs. Other possibilities include work on the upstairs of the keeper's house, more work on the oil house and bell house, and some landscaping. On trails, we have a grant application pending to complete the final loop of the trail on the Burying Point side of Hockamock Head. If all goes well, that work should be underway in July.

Stay tuned. Watch out for the launch of the FOSIL website in March.

Grant for Engineering Study of Tower

The Lighthouse Committee received news of a new Maine Dept. of Transportation grant that, combined with a grant already received from the Davis Family Foundation, will make possible a detailed engineering work plan for needed work on the light tower. Repairing rusted metal elements (the bonnet and the stairs, especially) is going to be a big challenge. This is the first step towards restoring the tower to good condition.

Poetry Reading at the Keeper's House

It was standing room only last night at the keeper's house. Between 50 and 60 people came to hear Sophie Cabot Black, Miranda Batiste and Gary Rainford read poetry. Outside, the moon on the water added to the show. It was the first evening event at the keeper's house in many years.

Grant for Informational Materials

The Lighthouse Committee received news that the Maine Recreational Trails Program has awarded a grant of $4,848 for development of interpretive signage for the Hockamock Head trails.

Keeper's House Open through Sept. 15.

Kathleen Lemoine is taking over as site manager for the first two weeks of September. The Keeper's House will be open from 11 am to 3 pm, Monday through Friday. The last day of operations for the year will be Saturday September 15, which is Maine Open Lighthouse Day. The Keeper's House will be open from 9 am to 3 pm that day. After September 15, it is closed for the season.

Lighthouse Day

Rain, fog, and a tardy ferry (with our main musicians on board) did not damp the enthusiasm of 60+ people who came out for Lighthouse Day. The program was juggled around a bit to accommodate the musicians' delay, and as the rain let up we moved outside for a grand finale and flag raising. Thanks to all the performers, especially Kimberly Haller, who organized the music program, Noah's Ballast (with special lyrics sung by Sonny Sprague), and Deb Schwabe who drove the bus, maneuvering it masterfully through the turn at the bottom of the hill. Thanks, too, to everyone who came to help us celebrate 140 years of the Burnt Coat Harbor Light!

Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) Team Works to Improve Trails

An MCC team of 6 people spent two weeks on the island working to improve the trails around Hockamock Head. Some tricky sections of the trails are much improved, and they also got started on the final loop back from Burying Point Beach to the summit parking area. Thanks to the anonymous donor who provided funds to support the team, and to the team members, who did a fantastic job! Also to all who provided support and hospitality, including a group of strong young volunteers who helped move a big pile of crushed stone from the parking lot to the work area.

Keeper's House Open to the Public

Starting on July 18, the Keeper's House will be open to the public from 11 am to 3 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Johanna (Jojo) Salay will be the site manager. Visitors will be able to view three separate displays: a display of artifacts and models from the Lobster and Marine Museum, honoring the work of Galen Turner; historic photos of Swan's Island watercraft (prepared by the Swan's Island Historical Society); and art work about the lighthouse by children from the Swan's Island School, prepared as part of their study of the local history.

Outward Bound Volunteers

Between July 31 and August 3, a team of young people from Outward Bound did volunteer work around the Light Station buildings and on Hockamock Head. Work included removing trash and debris from upstairs rooms at the Keeper's House; inventorying donated doors; staining the pump house; and some major landscaping around the harborside entrance to the keeper's house.

Logo Adopted

The Lighthouse Committee adopted a logo to brand activities carried out at the Light Station and Hockamock Head. The logo depicts the top of the light tower against a blue sky, with the lettering "Burnt Coat Harbor Light." The logo will be used by both the Lighthouse Committee and FOSIL. The Lighthouse Committee thanked Meg Dreyer for her careful, professional and patient work in designing the logo and shepherding it through to adoption.

Historic Tables and Chairs Arrive at the Keeper's House

The Town received a legacy from Stephen Milan, consisting of furniture that had been in the Milan family since the early 1900s, when Orrin Milan, Stephen's great grandfather, was the lighthouse keeper. The legacy includes a polished oak dining table with five straight chairs and a small octagonal end table. With assistance from the Milan family, the furniture was transported from Florida to Maine, and installed in the Keeper's House.