Eagle Island is located in Penobscot Bay Between Deer Isle and North Haven. Commissioned by President Van Buren in 1839, Eagle Island Light was established on the east end of the 260-acre island to guide vessels toward the Penobscot River and on to Bangor, America's leading lumber port in the mid-19th century. A wood frame, two-story keeper's house and fog bell tower were built at the same time as the stone lighthouse. An oil house was added in 1895; a fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed in 1858. In 1932 a 4,200-pound bronze fog bell was installed in the bell tower.
The light was automated in 1959 and all buildings except the tower itself were put up for bid with the condition that the buyer removes structures from the light station property. When no one came forward, the Coast Guard in 1963 decided to raze the buildings. Members of the Quinn family, along time residents of the island with ties to previous keepers of Eagle Island Light, appealed the decision but were unsuccessful in preventing the demolition.
In 1964 all buildings were razed, leaving the tower scarred and only traces of the old foundations remaining. When trying to remove the giant fog bell, the demolition crew lost control of it and the bell careened down the cliff into the ocean. An unexpecting lobsterman later found the bell and retrieved it; photographer Eliot Porter subsequently purchased the bell.
The lighthouse is now on private property and access to the island carefully controlled. Views from the water are partially obscured by trees. Excursion trips around, not onto, the islands are offered via the mail boat from Sunset, Maine; check area information for the schedule.
Via mail boat out of Sunset. Take Route 15 into Deer Isle and turn right at the post office (marked with a "Sunset" sign), bear right again at Pressey Village Road (0.5mile), then left onto Dunham Point Road. Continue on to Sylvester Cove (about 3.2 miles from the post office).