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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quoddy Head and Passamaquoddy Bay

This is the Quoddy Head Lighthouse on Passamaquoddy Bay, Maine, whose 49-foot tower flashes light visible over 14 miles at sea, one hopes even on a foggy day like this. It was automated in 1988, and has been run on electricity since the late 19th century. The first wooden tower, built in 1808, was lit by sperm whale oil. This tower replaced it in 1857, with a lamp lit by kerosene in the 1880s.

Passamaquoddy, the name of the bay, comes from the native Passamaquoddy people. It is a Micmac word referring to the area of fertile pollock fishing.

During the War of 1812, the British occupied the area of what is now the Eastport, Maine. Just before and during this war, our boundary with Canada was not clearly defined, and establishing our presence with a lighthouse was part of making a claim as to where the border should be. The 1817 treaty established the lighthouse as being within the United States border, but the exact course of the boundary line in the area was still not settled until the early 20th century. West Quoddy, Maine is the easternmost point of land in the contiguous United states at 44° 49' N 66° 57' W.

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