Vinalhaven is part of a group called the Fox Island after the grey foxes that once lived there in abundance. Located12 miles from Rockland in the middle of Penobscot Bay, the island was named for John Vinal. Maine was then a part of Massachusetts and Vinal lobbied the state legislature to incorporate the island as a town in 1789.
Today the island supports a substantial fishing and lobstering industry but in the 19th century the granite industry was the mainstay of the local economy. Increased shipping traffic associated with this industry prompted President Andrew Jackson to authorize construction of Browns Head Light in 1832. The light is located on the northwest point of Vinalhaven, marking the western entrance to the Fox Islands Thorofare.
The Keeper's house was in disrepair in 1857 and a new 1-1/2 story wood-framed house was built, connected by a covered walkway to the 20-foot tower. A fifth-order Fresnel lens was installed in that year, as was a bell tower with 1,000-pound fog bell. In 1987 Browns Head Light was among the last lighthouses in Maine to be automated. The bell is now displayed by the Vinalhaven Historical Society, Light station grounds are now owned by the Town of Vinalhaven and the town manager currently lives in the keeper's house.
The island is reached by year-round feery from Rockland; the lighthouse is six miles from the feery landing. Some scenic cruises from Camden also pass this light
Take the ferry from Rockland to Vinalhaven. Coming off the ferry, turn right and follow Main and High Streets to North Haven Road. Turn right and continue for about six miles; be careful to keep track of mileage, as there are no street signs or markers to the light. Look for a group of mailboxes at the intersection with a dirt road (Crockett River Road); turn left onto that road, then right at the second dirt road to the right. There is a small sign pointing to the lighthouse. Pass a small cemetery on the right. There is a small parking area at the light.