Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lighthouse Series - Loon Island Lighthouse, NH

Loon Island Lighthouse is a small lighthouse on a 10 mile long lake on Lake Sunapee, NH.  The lighthouse is located just outside Sunapee Harbor on Loon Island.

Typically, New England tales are full of oddities and the Loon Island Lighthouse tale is no different.  In the late 1800's Lake Sunapee was a huge summer destination for travelers from NY, NJ and CT. Visitors arrived by train into Sunapee Harbor and then boarded steamships that cruised the lake depositing people at resorts and family estates on the lake shore.
In 1891 a steamer ship struck an underwater ledge at Loon Island.  In response, in 1893 a wooden tower was built by the owners of the ships.
In 1896 while the fire department was doing maintenance on the tower, it caught fire!  Using the only bucket available on the island, the fireman threw lake water on the fire.  Then, being true Yankees, they finished the repairs.
The Great Depression put many lake resorts, hotels and steamships out of business.  The economy of the lake changed from being a destination with grand hotels to smaller, privately owned plots of land.
In 1960, lightning struck the tower and burned it to the ground. It was rebuilt that year, funded by private donations.  Solar panels were installed in the 1980s.
The Lake Sunapee Protective Association owns the tower today.  It is still operated on the lake guiding recreational crafts.

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