Wood Island Light


caption = Wood Island Light on a cloudy July afternoon.
location = Biddeford, Maine
coordinates = coord|43|27|24|N|70|19|42|W|region:US_type:landmark
yearbuilt = 1808
yearlit = 1858 (current tower)
automated = 1986
yeardeactivated =
foundation = Natural Emplaced
construction = Granite rubble
shape = conical
marking = White with black lantern
height = convert|47|ft (tower), convert|71|ft (mean water)
lens = 4th order Fresnel lens
range = White convert|18|nmi, Green convert|16|nmi
characteristic = Alternating White and Green lights 10 s. Emergency light (Flashing Green 10 s) of reduced intensity when main light is extinguished. HORN: 2 blasts every 30 s (2s bl-2s si-2s bl-24s si).

Wood Island Light is an active lighthouse on the eastern edge of Wood Island in Saco Bay, Maine, United States. The light is just outside the entrance to Biddeford Pool and the end of the Saco River. The lighthouse is a convert|47|ft tall conical white tower constructed of granite rubble. The light itself sits convert|71|ft above the mean high waterline. It currently is automated and has an alternating green and white beacon every 10 seconds.


Wood Island Light was constructed in 1808 under the orders of President Thomas Jefferson. The original tower was an octagonal wooden structure that had rotted out by the 1830s. In 1839 a granite tower was erected replacing the original wood structure. The current tower was constructed in 1858 as a renovation of the 1839 tower to allow for the installation of a 4th order Fresnel Lense. Also built in 1858 were the current keepers dwellings which are still standing.

Eben Emerson served as Lightkeeper during the 1860s. On March 16, 1865, he saved the crew of the British brig "Edyth Anne" from drowning in a heavy storm near the lighthouse; for this action he was commended by the Canadian government and rewarded with a binocular. [http://www.lhdigest.com/Digest/StoryPage.cfm?StoryKey=1947]

Thomas Henry Orcutt, a former sea captain and previous keeper at Saddleback Ledge Light served as keeper of Wood Island Light for 19 years (1886-1905). His dog, Sailor, became famous for ringing the station's fog bell to greet passing ships by taking the bell cord in mouth and pulling it with his teeth.

In 1960s the original lantern room was removed and an aerobeacon was installed instead. This however was deemed unsightly by locals and when the lighthouse was automated in 1986 a new lantern room was fabricated and installed on the lighthouse along with the current beacon. Currently the United States Coast Guard maintains the active beacon of the lighthouse, however The Friends of Wood Island Light non-profit organization has assisted the Coast Guard by maintaining and restoring parts of the lighthouse and keepers dwellings which they now own.

Legends and lore

In the 1890s Wood Island Light and Wood Island were host to a grisly murder-suicide. A local squatter and part time lobsterman was living on the west end of the island. The squatter had been involved in an earlier altercation on the mainland and was approached by a sheriff's deputy in his squatter shack on the island. The squatter murdered the sheriff's deputy. Realizing what he had done he attempted to turn himself in to lighthouse keeper Thomas Orcutt who, in fear, turned him away. The squatter returned to his shack and committed suicide. Legend has it that the ghost of the murdered deputy still haunts the lighthouse and island.


Wood Island Light is viewable from just beyond the southern end of SR-208 off Biddeford Pool, Maine. To reach the best viewing spot proceed beyond SR-208's southern terminus convert|.6|mi along Lester B Orcutt Bl. There is an entrance to an Audubon trail on the left side of the road. Follow this path to the ocean. Wood Island Light is across the channel.

Also Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse runs seasonal tours out to the island and lighthouse from Biddeford Pool.

External links

* [http://www.woodislandlighthouse.org/ Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse]
* [http://www.cr.nps.gov/maritime/light/woodisl.htm National Park Service]
* [http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/WEBLIGHTHOUSES/LHME.html/ United States Coast Guard]

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