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Southern Maine
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Wood Island Lighthouse

wood island light

Biddeford, Maine
Built in 1808


Location:

On Wood Island, east of the mouth of the Saco River. Lighthouse and grounds are operated by the Friends of Wood Island Light (FOWIL) for access.

Latitude: 43° 27' 25" N
Longitude: 70° 19' 45" W

Historic Stories:

wood island light
Vintage Image Courtesy of
US Coast Guard

Built in 1808, marking the entrance to the Saco River, the island was full of trees until 1869 when they were destroyed by a fierce winter gale and then by fire later that year. The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1858.

Keeper Thomas Orcutt, who served from 1886 until 1905, is the most famous of Keepers at the lighthouse involving a tragedy between two locals who lived on the island.

In 1896, a drunken lobster man, named Howard Hobbs killed a part time game warden and special policeman, Fred Milliken, at the lighthouse. Shortly afterwards Keeper Thomas Orcutt told Hobbs to give himself up, and would not let him stay at the lighthouse fearing for his own safety with Hobbs’ state of mind. Hobbs went back to his shack and committed suicide. The story goes that the lighthouse has been haunted by the ghost of the murdered law officer and the lobster man ever since.

Keeper Thomas Orcutt also had a famous dog, named Sailor that was known to faithfully ring the fog bell when he heard a passing ship's bell to warn of the rocky shoreline of the island, and was used as a messenger to carry letters and other small articles in his mouth.

Bob Orcutt was recently awarded the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse Len Hadley Volunteer of the Year award (2012) as one of the three Light Runner Captains who provide access to the island and make the tours possible. He carries on a long tradition of service to the lighthouse as he is the Great Grandson of Wood Island Lighthouse Keeper Thomas Henry Orcutt.

 

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Places to Visit Nearby:

Biddeford and its neighbor Saco were busy textile mill and manufacturing towns for Southern Maine in the 19th and 20th centuries. Saco’s Funtown Splashtown, Aquaboggan Park, and the Maine State Aquarium are popular tourist attractions for the family. Biddeford is composed of an assortment of individually distinct and interesting villages, such as Biddeford Pool, where the lighthouse can be viewed, and Hills Beach and Fortune Rocks, which have nice beaches for families.

Biddeford Pool is a small ocean village community where visitors can view Wood Island Light from a distance by taking the walking trail along the golf course owned by the East Point Audubon Sanctuary. At the shoreline you can hike around the area, and if you happen to be there during blueberry season (between July and August) the paths are filled with fresh blueberries.

For those that would like to tour the lighthouse, water shuttles to Wood Island are offered during the summer by the Friends Of Wood Island Lighthouse, who also provide narrated tours of the lighthouse and grounds. The lighthouse tower and keeper's house have been nearly totally renovated with extensive efforts by many volunteers and members of FOWIL near to its original state in the early 20th century. Other special tours like local ghost hunting tours are also being offered to help in raising funds for the restoration.

Just a few miles north lies one of Maine’s major tourist playgrounds, for Americans and Canadians alike, Old Orchard Beach, with its beaches, camping, shops, amusement park, and nightlife, and of course, it's famous pier of shops.

Looking for a candy shop for the true chocoholic? In Scarborough, on Route 1, you’ll find Len Libby Candy Shops. Not only do they provide great candies made by their own chocolatiers, but there you’ll also find the Lenny, the world’s largest 1700-pound life-size chocolate moose, in the true Maine tradition. You’ll also find his friends, a 350-pound chocolate bear and a couple of her eighty-pound chocolate bear cubs. The store stays cool all year to keep the chocolate from melting.

 

Driving Directions for Distant View of Lighthouse

 

Contact Info:
Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse
P. O. Box 26
Biddeford Pool, ME 04006
Email: Brad@woodislandlighthouse.org


 

 

Shuttle to Wood Island Lighthouse

The Friends of Wood island Lighthouse (FOWL) offer daily water shuttles to Wood Island during the summer months. Visitors can then take a narrated tour of Wood island Lighthouse and may also have a chance to climb the lighthouse tower for some great scenic views.

P.O. Box 26
Biddeford Pool, Maine 04006

Directions to Wood Island's Water Shuttle Parking Lot
Use directions above and at Biddeford Pool take a left at the end and head towards the fire station. When you pass Hatties Restaurant the road bears right. Mile Stretch Rd. meets L.B. Orcutt Blvd at the top of the rise. Turn left on L.B. Orcutt, and then go over the rise and straight down the hill a couple of hundred yards, Vine’s Landing is right behind the Red Geranium Store where you can park on the road using the parking signs.

 

 

 

My 300-page book (with over 360 images), Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, published by Schiffer Publishing, provides human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours near each beacon.

You can find more in-depth information about the incident involving the lobsterman and the sheriff, and the story of Thomas Orcutt's famous dog Sailor, along with many other stories and attractions.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and attractions

 

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