About This Location
Doubling Point Lighthouse: Guiding the Way on the Kennebec River
Perched gracefully on Arrowsic Island in Maine, the Doubling Point Lighthouse, also known as Doubling Point Light, is a cherished symbol of maritime history and navigation. Established in 1898, it plays a pivotal role in guiding mariners safely along the Kennebec River, a waterway that has held great importance for the region, most notably with the founding of the Bath Iron Works, a renowned shipbuilder located 1.5 miles upriver.
A Shining Legacy Amidst the Riverways:
The history of Doubling Point Lighthouse is intertwined with the late 1800s, a time when the Kennebec River was evolving into a vital maritime route. While the Kennebec Steamboat Company and towboat firms maintained rudimentary lights at key turning points along the river, the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment had not yet introduced official navigational aids on the river.
Recognizing the growing need for better riverway safety, the Lighthouse Board recommended the establishment of five official lights on the Kennebec River, including one at Doubling Point, across from the historic shipbuilding town of Bath. The justification for these lights was clear, with 3,137 arrivals of vessels in the river during 1892, not including the daily steamers. The challenging river conditions further underscored the necessity of these lights. The Kennebec River was known for its sea fogs, which could extend as far as Bath, as well as its own dense river fog or mist. On dark nights, distinguishing between the water's edge and the shore could be a daunting task.
Congress allocated $17,000 on March 2, 1895, for the construction of these five lights, including Doubling Point Light. The plot of land for the lighthouse was acquired from Samuel S. Freeman, a local resident, on May 29, 1896. The first phase of the station, which was completed on March 30, 1898, comprised a white octagonal wooden tower, a one-and-a-half-story wooden L-shaped keeper's dwelling, a pyramidal fog bell tower, and a small barn. A crucial change in the station's history occurred in September 1899 when the tower was relocated to its present offshore position atop a granite pier. This strategic move provided a safer, more prominent location, marking the focal plane of the light at a height of 23 feet above the river.
A Guiding Light on the Kennebec River:
Doubling Point Lighthouse is an octagonal wooden tower, painted white with a black lantern room that crowns its upper section. Originally equipped with a fifth-order Fresnel lens, the lighthouse now features a modern 300mm optic, installed in the mid-1970s. This optic emits a flashing white light every 4 seconds, visible up to 9 nautical miles. The original Fresnel lens is on display at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, Maine.
Over the years, several changes took place. The fog bell was removed in 1980, and its current whereabouts are unknown. The catwalk was reconstructed in 1985, while automation took place in 1988.
Preservation and Stewardship:
In 1998, the Friends of the Doubling Point Light, a non-profit corporation, was entrusted with the stewardship of the lighthouse as part of the Maine Lights Program. Their mission is to protect and preserve the lighthouse and its surrounding property, ensuring its role as a navigational aid for Kennebec River users and a site for historical study, educational groups, and interested citizens. The Friends organization also takes measures to prevent disturbances to local residents and maintains access to the property for those wishing to explore its historical significance.
Visiting Doubling Point Lighthouse:
Access to Doubling Point Lighthouse is granted to visitors with passenger vehicles between 9:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. The lighthouse can be reached via privately-owned and maintained gravel roads. Visitors are kindly requested to drive carefully, respect the 15 mph speed limit, watch for pedestrians and pets, and show consideration for property owners along the private-access road and residents in the privately-owned Keeper's Quarters.
Visitors can explore the grounds surrounding the lighthouse from 9 a.m. to sunset. While the lighthouse tower itself is typically open to the public once annually during the Maine Open Lighthouse Day in September, guests can still enjoy the site's scenic surroundings and historical significance year-round.
There is no admission fee for visiting Doubling Point Lighthouse. However, donations to the non-profit, 501(c)(3) Friends of the Doubling Point Light are greatly appreciated to support ongoing preservation efforts and property maintenance.
Notably, Doubling Point Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 1988, underscoring its role in preserving American architectural and cultural heritage. The reference number for Doubling Point Lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places is 87002271.