The area’s only lighthouse actually on Mount Desert Island, the 32-foot Bass Harbor light was built in 1858 to guide mariners around the southwestern end of the island and in and out of Blue Hill Bay. The light itself, 56 feet above the water, was electrified in 1949 and automated in 1974. It can be seen at a distance of 13 nautical miles.
The lighthouse today sits on land belonging to Acadia National Park, but the house itself is official Coast Guard housing (traditionally occupied by the commander of the base in Southwest Harbor), and thus under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Visitors to the property are welcome, although they’re reminded to stay on marked paths by a sign that reads “Grass grows by inches and dies by feet.”
Fun Fact: The Bass Harbor light is one of 14 included in the deck of ‘Maine Lighthouses’ playing cards. (It’s also the picture on the back of every card.) If the face cards are meant to represent the best known lighthouses in the state, the top four are the West Quoddy Head light (aces), Bass Harbor light (kings), Pemaquid Point light (queens), and Portland Head light (jacks).