Little River Lighthouse

Cutler, Maine
The Little River Lighthouse is a historic beacon at the entrance of the Little River in Cutler, Maine that has stood for over 175 years.
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About This Location

The Little River Lighthouse, a historic beacon that has graced the entrance of the Little River in Cutler, Maine, for over 175 years, is a captivating piece of maritime history. Its story begins in 1842 when I.W.P. Lewis, a renowned American lighthouse designer, builder, and engineer, recognized the need for a lighthouse at this location. Lewis noted that the treacherous waters around Moose Cove and Baylie’s Mistake posed significant risks to boats navigating into Little River and Cutler Harbor, making a guiding light imperative.

In response to this need, Congress approved funds totaling $5,000 in March 1847, and a 16-acre parcel on Little River Island was secured for the construction of the lighthouse. The original structure featured a 23.5-foot conical stone tower topped with seven lamps and reflectors. Adjacent to the tower was the keeper’s dwelling. In 1855, the lighting apparatus was upgraded to a revolving fifth-order Fresnel lens, enhancing the effectiveness of the lighthouse. Furthermore, in 1871, a fog-bell tower was added to the island to aid mariners during periods of reduced visibility.

By 1876, the original lighthouse tower required significant repairs, prompting the decision to replace it entirely. A new 41-foot cylindrical cast-iron tower was erected that year. This tower, with a focal plane of 56 feet, emits a flashing white light every 6 seconds (Fl W 6s) and has a range of 13 nautical miles. Additionally, in 1888, the original keeper’s house was demolished and replaced with a new dwelling.

Since the construction of the new tower in 1876 and the replacement of the keeper’s house in 1888, the Little River Lighthouse has remained relatively unchanged. The tower itself has undergone different paint schemes over the years, with the current design featuring a white tower with a green lantern. The lighthouse was also automated in 1974.

In recognition of its historical significance, the Little River Lighthouse was honored with a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. This designation is a prestigious acknowledgment of the lighthouse’s cultural and architectural importance, signifying its status as a cherished piece of American maritime heritage. The reference number assigned to the lighthouse by the National Park Service is 88000156.

Today, the Little River Lighthouse is owned and maintained by the American Lighthouse Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the nation’s lighthouses. The foundation offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the lighthouse firsthand through overnight stays in the keeper’s house and seasonal tours of the lighthouse and the island.

While the lighthouse is not visible from the shore, the Friends of Little River Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, facilitates special open houses during the summer season. These events, in addition to the site’s overnight stay program, provide the general public with a chance to visit and appreciate this unique island light station. Boat transportation to the island is provided from Cutler Harbor, where visitors can embark on a beautiful half-mile walk across a tree-lined wooden plank walkway to reach the lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Guests can enjoy a tour of the keeper’s house and also have the opportunity to purchase souvenirs, contributing to the preservation efforts of the Friends of Little River Lighthouse.

For those unable to attend the open houses or overnight stays, various boat charters offer the opportunity to get close to the Little River Lighthouse, allowing more people to appreciate the enduring charm and historical significance of this maritime icon.

Location

Address: Little River Island, Cutler, Maine
Place GPS Coordinates: 44.650861, -67.192278
Parking GPS Coordinates: 44.650861, -67.192278
Parking Notes: The lighthouse is not viewable from the shore. The American Lighthouse Foundation, which owns Little River Lighthouse, does offer overnight stays at the lighthouse and tours. You can learn more at www.littleriverlight.org

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