These photos are of the lighthouse on SEGUIN ISLAND, Maine, and of the island itself as you approach. This 65-acre hump of rock is located about three miles off the mouth of the Kennebec River south of Bath, Maine. There has been a lighthouse there since 1795. The one in the picture, and the duplex residence that served the Keeper and his Assistant Keeper, date from 1857. We were fortunate to live here on the island, tending to many minor maintenance duties, and providing tours and island history to the many visitors, for the entire summer of 2005. The north side of the duplex houses a small museum and gift shop. This is a relatively short lighthouse, but wait til you see the one in Oregon. As you can see in the photos, the top of the island is well over a hundred feet above the water, so the light from this lighthouse is the highest in Maine.
This tower still has the original classic glass prismatic Fresnel lens, seen in the third photo, which is still illuminated with a “fixed” (non-flashing) white light. Made by the firm of Henry-Lapaute in Paris, this is one of only a few First-Order lenses still in service in an American lighthouse. It is an iconic artifact, and to see this lens is well worth the awkward trip to Seguin. The left photo below shows the illuminated lens. The right photo shows the “tram car” and a view down the long “tramway” track to the island’s landing site below. As did many lighthouses where the vertical or horizontal distance between where supplies were landed from the “tender ships” to the station buildings was significant, a rail-car system powered by a stationary engine was constructed. This tramway at Seguin, now powered by a diesel engine in the shed seen below, is one of the last still-operational systems in the U.S.
The left photo below shows the illuminated Fresnel lens in the Seguin lantern room. The right photo is a view from the top down the “Tramway Track” to the landing area of the island, the location where personnel and materials have always come ashore on the island.
The left photo below shows a corner of the brick building that was built circa 1895 to house the steam engines that sounded a “fog whistle.” The electronic horn in the foreground is now the “fog horn”, and the building is the island’s workshop. The photo on the right is of the “oil house,” built to store the kerosene lamp fuel away from other station buildings.
By the way, if I asked which state has the most lighthouses, most folks quickly answer, “Maine.” But that is not correct. Maine is number three. Think about it. The answer will be found elsewhere on this website.
Mid-summer of 2011 found Jack and Tobi back in Maine as lighthouse volunteers. This time it was at LITTLE RIVER LIGHT STATION, located on a small island just off shore at Cutler, Maine. This is way “down East,” almost to the New Brunswick border. The lighthouse tower is made of cast iron plates and lined with brick. It was built in 1876, when it replaced the original 1847 stone tower on this island. Its purpose then and now was to guide mariners along this shore of the Bay of Fundy as well as into the Cutler harbor. Identical such towers can be found at many other sites in Maine and Massachusetts.
In addition to the tower, this station retains the keeper’s residence built in 1888 to replace an earlier stone house. It also has the “new” boathouse, built in 1881 on the other (west) side of the island, and the 1905 Oil House, built of granite blocks from the earlier structures, to store the more flammable kerosene which was by then the fuel used in lamps in both tower and residence. The bell used as a fog signal is now on display in the Cutler town circle, and a solar powered electronic fog horns sounds a warning today.
Deactivated by the Coast Guard in 1975, the classic glass-prisms Fresnel lens was removed and lost. After years of sitting empty, the present more modern optic was placed in the tower lantern room in 2001. A six-sided white Vega prismatic lens, it does much the same job as the classic Fresnel. Rotating once around every thirty seconds, it thus sends a white flash of light out to the viewer every five seconds, differentiating it from the Grand Manan light and the Machias Seal Island light, both of which can be seen from Little River Island.
Pictures below show scenes of the Little River light station, including a view from offshore, a closer-up look at the tower, and a view from the tower gallery. Other photos are of the present Vega lens, the oil house, and the boat house.
After years of abandonment, the light and the island are owned today by the Friends of Little River Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation. Rooms in the keeper’s house are rentable for overnight stay by visitors. Likewise the Friends seek volunteer Keepers/Caretakers. In return for your service for a week or so, you get to stay in the keeper’s house too. Remember, you’re on an island – boating experience is mandatory. For more information, visit “Little River Lighthouse”.
Jack and Tobi had the wonderful opportunity to return to not one, but TWO of their favorite Maine lighthouses – SEGUIN ISLAND and LITTLE RIVER for a time in the summer of 2013. The Friends of Seguin Island, owners/operators of the island and lighthouse, have extended their visitor season into early October, and have offered all their former “caretakers” the opportunity to return for part or all of this extended season. We jumped at the offer and spent most of September on this delightful island. We spent several weeks back at Little River, way “Down East” just prior to our return visit to Seguin. They say you can’t go home again, but we found both places as wonderful the second time around as they had been the first. A few more pictures of these great places follow; the top three are on Seguin Island, the lower three on Little River Island, including one of the author heading to shore to pick up visitors. Note the island and the boathouse in the background.
2015 and 2016
The tenth and eleventh summers that we have spent some time at a lighthouse – found us back for a THIRD and yet a FOURTH time to Little River Island and the Little River lightouse. Something about an island in Maine that just draws us in. Pictures of this scenic island and the cast iron lighthouse here can be found above. Rooms in the keeper’s house are rented for overnight stay by the Friends of Little River Island.