Collated and edited by Chris Hall, Curator of Exhibits and A-shop apprentice, 1974-75.
Thoughts? Let me know. Thanks, Chris
In July 2013, Maine Maritime Museum conducted its first tour of Wood Island and its lighthouse which sit in the Atlantic at the mouth of the Saco River just off shore or Biddeford Pool.
The following historical information was taken from the website of the Friends of Wood Island Light, a local preservation group whose mission is to restore and preserve the structures on Wood Island.
In 1806, the U.S. Government purchased eight acres at the Eastern end of Wood Island in Saco Bay off the coast of what was then Massachusetts and is now Maine. The plans were to build a lighthouse there to help guide mariners into Winter Harbor and to the Saco River. There was a high volume of seaborn commerce and many fishing vessels working in the vicinity at that time. By 1808, the lighthouse was a functioning beacon. The octagonal structure was 45 feet from its base to the lantern room floor. Both the tower and keeper's house were constructed with a wood frame and shingle siding, which did not fare well in the harsh environment. In 1835, both the tower and home were reconstructed of granite. The tower remained at a 45 foot height. constructing a new tower and dwelling house out of granite. In 1857-58 the tower was reconstructed to accomodate the new fourth order Fresnel lens and the dwelling house was rebuilt as a 1-1/2 story wooden structure. Though the dwelling house had further changes, today’s tower looks like the one finished in 1858.
In 1906, the keeper’s house was remodeled – the roof was raised and dormers added creating a Dutch Colonial style. A fog bell tower was added in 1873. In the late 1960s, the lantern room was removed from Wood Island Lighthouse and a rotating aero beacon was installed. In October 1986, the last keeper took down the flag and left duty. The light still functions as an automated beacon which is powered by solar energy.