The Little River Lighthouse has stood at the entrance of the Little River in Cutler, Maine for over 175 years. The need for the Little River Lighthouse was brought about in 1842 when I.W. P. Lewis, a notable American lighthouse designer, builder, and engineer, wrote that “There is no place on the coast of Maine where a light would be so truly serviceable as upon the island at the entrance of this harbor, a small beacon light being alone required.” I.W.P Lewis noted that boats navigating into Little River to Cutler Harbor would have to avoid the indents known as Moose Cove and Baylie’s Mistake which were lined with reefs that could cause wrecks.
In March of 1847, Congress approved funds of $5,000 and secured the 16-acres Little River Island to have the lighthouse built. The 23.5-foot, conical tower was constructed of stone and was capped off by seven lamps and reflectors. Adjacent to the tower was the lighthouse keeper’s dwelling. In 1855, the lamps and reflectors were replaced with a more modern solution, a revolving fifth-order Fresnel lens. A fog-bell tower was added to the island in 1871.
In 1876, the lighthouse tower was in need of major repairs. Instead of repairing the lighthouse, it was determined that building a new one would be best. During that year, a 41-foot iron tower was constructed to replace the previous stone lighthouse. In 1888, the original keeper’s house was demolished and a new one was built.
Since 1888, the light station has remained basically the same. The tower itself has been painted different colors over the years and currently, it is a white tower with a green lantern. Little River Lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. It is owned and maintained by the American Lighthouse Foundation which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The foundation does offer overnight stays in the keeper’s house and seasonal tours of the lighthouse and island.
- Originally constructed: 1846
- Current tower constructed: 1876
- First lit: 1876 (current structure)
- Construction: Cast Iron
- Tower shape: Cylindrical
- Height: 39 feet
- Focal height: 56 feet
- Markings: White and green lantern roof
- Characteristic: Flashing white light every 6 seconds (Fl W 6s)
- Range: 13 nautical miles
- Status: Active
- NRHP number: 88000156
- Address: Little River Island
- Town: Cutler
- State: Maine
- GPS: Lat 44.65098 Lng -67.192359
- 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
- Parking directions: N/A
- Location directions: HERE