On July 8, 2020, the National Park Service formally accepted transfer of the Bass Harbor Head Light Station on Mount Desert Island from the U.S. Coast Guard. The station was constructed in 1858 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
The acquisition included six buildings and a 32-foot light tower on 2 acres. A quarter-mile entrance road leads to a parking lot with 27 spaces, and a short hiking trail and stairway to a shoreline viewpoint. The U.S. Coast Guard retains the right to operate and maintain the automated aid to navigation.
With an estimated 180,000 annual visitors, it is already the fifth most popular destination in the park, behind only Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, Sand Beach, and Thunder Hole.
The goals of property transfer, several years in the making, include —
- preserve the historic structures and setting;
- maximize cost-sharing opportunities to operate and maintain the buildings efficiently and effectively;
- and enhance visitor enjoyment, understanding, and access.
Acadia is now home to three lighthouses, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Baker Island Light (1855) has public access to the exterior only by private boat or commercial boat tour.
- The Bear Island Light (1889) is managed under a long-term lease and has no public access.
- The Bass Harbor Head Light (1858) is the only lighthouse in the park that is readily accessible to visitors by vehicle.