Historical ChronologyThis chronology is being compiled by the history group of the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation. The resources for this information are noted with initials, acronyms, etc. the definition of which can be found on the Resource List at the end of this document. Most materials referenced are on file with the history group.

Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to have a lighthouse built on Wood Island. JER.

6 acres of land on Wood Island were sold to the US Government for $120 by Pendleton Fletcher, Pendleton Fletcher, Jr., Batchelor Bunker, Christopher Hussey, Elihu Coffin and Thomas Cutts, Jr. NOR.

About 2 acres of land on Wood Island were sold to the US Government for $40 by the same above mentioned group. NOR.

1807 (June 15)
A Contract was made between the US Government and Housewrights, Benjamin Beal and Duncan Mc B Thaxter for the construction of Wood Island Lighthouse. The tower was to be of wood and in an octagon form. Also to be built, a wood frame dwelling house of one story, 17 by 26 feet. NARA NE.

The Schooner Charles going from Boston to Portland with 25 passengers, wrecked on Little Island.
The bodies were found on Crescent Beach. WT.

Money was authorized to build Wood Island Light. Annual appropriation $100. Year of expenditure 1808. Expenditure by warrants $5100. JER.

The construction of Wood Island Light is authorized by Thomas Jefferson. It is the 13th lighthouse to be built in the United States. AC p1.

Benjamin Cole (Saco) appointed first keeper. CC.

Phillip Goldthwaite keeper at Wood Island Light. Born 1757-1832. Married Martha Hanscom of Saco. He died in service and his son, Tristram Goldthwait took over until he could get the family off the island with all of their animals and until a new keeper was appointed. AC p6; GOL; NOR; KL; NAMF M1373, CC.

English Frigate Bulwark attacked Biddeford Pool. The Harmoine, Catherine and Equator were sunk. One ship in the stocks (unknown name) was burned and one ship the Victory was stolen for ransom of $6000. JOS; JPF; WT.

Benjamin Bailey, John Leavitt and John Lowell entered into a contract with Isaac Ilsley, Esq., Superintendent of Lighthouses and collector of Customs in the State of Maine, that they would build on Stage Island, in Winter Harbor, a column or monument 60’ high. It was originally built to assist mariners in keeping deep-water passage in and out of the Pool, 1825. JS.

Until construction of the Whaleback Light in this year, Wood Island Light was Maine’s southernmost navigational aid. AC p2.

Lighthouse tower used a revolving device. The light source was Winslow Lewis’s patented “reflecting and magnifying lantern” (patented just after the war of 1812). It used a rotating Eclipser to create the flash and it flashed every 1.5 minutes. AC p2.

Tristram Goldthwaite keeper, Philip Goldthwaite’s son. Trstram took over the light after his father died until a new keeper was appointed. Born 1804-1887, Married Lucy Emmons. After her death he married Mary Staples of Saco. GOL; KL; CC.

1833 (January 15)
There is a letter written by Stephan Pleasonton, Fifth Auditor of the Treasury Department to John Chandler, collector and Superintendent of Light Houses in Maine. He requests that the family of the late keeper (Phillip Goldthwait) be allowed to stay on Wood Island until weather permits them to remove their cattle and effects from the Island. He suggests that arrangements be made by which the duties of the keeper may be performed by Tristram Goldthwait, son the late keeper, on behalf of Mr. Norwood, the newly appointed keeper. CC.

Abraham Norwood keeper (unknown if this is Abraham the first or second). Abraham the first was born 1780. Married Nancy Norwood (1st cousin). Parents of 15 children, third child named Abraham (we will refer to him as Abraham the second) born 1806. KL, CC.

(August 28) A letter was written by John Chandler, collector and Superintendent of Light Houses in Maine to Stephan Pleasonton, Fifth Auditor of the Treasury, Washington. Chandler reports that the “Light House on Wood Island must be rebuilt next season. It is rotten (being both the tower and dwelling house of wood) and cannot be made to stand longer than another season”. CC.

$5000 appropriated for rebuilding the Lighthouse. Year expended 1839. JER (July 7, 1838 – Stats. At
Large, vol. 5 p. 289, secretary 1)

(July 26) There is a solicitation by John Anderson, Collector and Superintendent of Light Houses in Maine for the reception of sealed bids for the building of a Light House and Dwelling House for the Keeper. The tower is to be made of Granite. CC

Lighthouse tower was rebuilt. Wooden tower is replaced by granite tower. AC p2; NARA NE.

(November) William and Harris” wrecks near Negro island, in route from New York to Maine. MHAIS.

John Adams keeper. He was appointed keeper on July 6, 1841 for a salary of $350. He was able to raise 10 tons of hay on 6 acres. The light has ten lamps and revolves once in two minutes. He described the house as being built of rough stone with brick gables. It was built by J. Berry of East Thomaston. The tower is of rubble masonry, forty four feet high, laid up in bad lime mortar; Base resting on uneven surface of a ledge; walls cracked and leaky; The brick arch supporting the lantern deck is cracked away, and now supported by wooden framing; woodwork decayed and window frames loose in their seals. Dwelling house of rubble masonry with brick gables, laid up in bad lime mortar; roof shingled; three rooms on first floor and three chambers in attic; walls open at joints of masonry, which appear to be filled with sand instead of mortar; windows leaky; plastering dropped entirely off in one chamber, and some of the other rooms; cellar wet and muddy; no drain to kitchen sinks; whole construction very defective in materials and workmanship. Lantern octagonal; wrought iron frame with dome coppered; height of side , six feet three inches; diameter, at angles, seven feet nine inches; glazed with 11×12 impure glass; sash bars three-quarters of an inch wide; angles three inches and a quarter wide; ten lamps, 1-inch burners, with 13 inch reflectors, arranged in two series upon segmental frames, precisely the same as in No. 3 and No. 27, having also the same defect of too great divergence of light and consequent loss of intensity; reflectors, two inches apart, and eight of them out of plumb, from one quarter to three quarters of an inch; position of burners, as to apex of reflectors, varies from two inches and a half to three inches. Machine of rotation is placed below the floor of the lantern, through a hole in the center of which passes down the shaft supporting the lamp frames; this shaft rests upon the pivot of the clock. As there is no covering to protect the machine from the accumulation of dust and dirt falling through the hole in the floor of the lantern, the motion is frequently stopped, and the light becomes a fixed instead of revolving one, to the imminent danger of the navigator, who might mistake it, under such circumstances, for Cape Porpoise Harbor, fixed light, a short distance southwest of this, and, in attempting to enter the supposed harbor, would be inevitably lost upon the numerous ledges surrounding Wood Island. Center of light is sixty nine feet above the level of the mean high water mark, and it should be easily seen in clear weather eleven and three quarters miles. There is no rain water cistern. The clock which carries the lamps round is very badly fitted, so that it frequently stops; the rope by which the clock weight is suspended saws against the staircase. Keeper has a boat but no shelter for it. All supplies are obtained from Saco. JER (Letter to Secretary of the Treasury dated 2/5/1843); KL.

Stephen D. Batchelder keeper. KL; NAMF-M1373; HH.

The steamer Halifax was purchased by a local group. Under the management of George H. Adams, a prominent Biddeford businessman, The Halifax began making pleasure trips to the Pool and Wood Island. Because of these trips, people began to speak of the Pool when they meant Winter Harbor. From this time really dates the growth of the name Biddeford Pool for what had always previously been known as Winter Harbor village. DY 1851.

(April) Augusta wrecks near Wood Island. JPF.

Nathaniel Varrell appointed keeper on May 4 by President Franklin Pierce, he was 60 years old at the time. His wife Mary died in 1851. He died April 29, 1856.KL; NAMF-M1373; HH.

$5000 appropriated for a light on Wood Island. Spent as follows: 1855 $331.83; 1856 $974; 1857 $3760.42. JER (August 3, 1854 Stats. At Large vol. 5, p. 289).

Lyman Frank Verrill keeper. He was Nathaniel Varrell’s son and finished his Father’s term as Keeper. Frank as he was known, owned the Verrill house on Stage Island and another house on Fort Hill. KL; NAMF-M1373; HH.

(December 14) American Schooner, “Washington” wrecked west of Wood Island. MHASI; EA.

A new keeper’s house was constructed. It was a one and one-half story three bay frame dwelling. AC p2.

Jos. R. Bryant appointed keeper May 28th. KL; NAMF-M1373; HH.

By order of President James Buchanan, lighthouse tower was renovated to support a new fourth order Fresnel lens with (coal fired signals??). The beam was originally white, but was changed to red sometime before 1908. AC p2.

(November) Unidentified Schooner “Hiawatha” wrecked in the vicinity of Wood Island. MHASI.

1861-1865 (Civil War years)
Ebenezer (Eben) Emerson, Born 1814-1897, married Susan Rhodes of Lyman, appointed keeper by President Lincoln on May 11. He became a hero. At 1:00 AM on March 16,1865, Emerson heard the cries from the people aboard the brig Edyth Ann of Nova Scotia. She was loaded with molasses and sugar from Puerto Rico bound for Portland, Maine. She was aground on Washburn Ledge. Through his single handed heroics, Emerson was able to save the entire crew. June, 1865, the Canadian (British at the time) government cited Keeper Emerson’s heroism and awarded him a pair of brass binoculars in a rosewood box with a plaque honoring his heroic efforts. ACp 14; KL; NAMF- M1373; ID.

The Steamship Bohemian bound from Liverpool to Portland with 218 passengers wrecked off Cape Elizabeth, Saco Bay. ERS; PPL.

1865 (March)
Nova Scotia Brig Edyth Ann) wrecked on Washburn Ledge. ID.

Edwin Tarbox keeper. (son-in-law of Abraham Norwood (first), brother-in-law to Albert Norwood). NOR; NAD; KL; NAMF-M1373

1867 (September)
American Schooner “Game Cock” holed on a rock and run into the beach with cargo of fish. MHASI

Boat house and slip 150 feet long built, illuminating apparatus examined, revolving machinery and time piece cleaned, new boat and equipment supplied. CC (NARA)

1869 (October)
American Schooner “Nellie Grant” sank near Biddeford Pool. MHASI

(December) Eva wrecked near Old Orchard Beach. JPF.

A big storm took out many trees on the island and then fire took the rest. AC p3; LOM
The revolving machinery has been cleaned, and burners re-tubed. The station is now in good condition. CC (NARA).

1872 (Dec. 24th)
The American Schooner Intrepid with 15 tons of Iron struck the outer reef of Wood Island. Christmas morning the Captain and crew made their way to the Lighthouse. The Captain’s wife had small pox and was cared for by the keeper’s family. JF.

1872 (Dec. 24th)
The American Schooner Smith Tuttle of Wiscassett, went ashore at Wood Island, was off with no injuries. JF.

1872 (Dec. 24th)
The ship Virginia went onto Wood Island. Came off the same day and went into the Pool. JF.

The Wood Island Fog Bell was cast in Sheffield England by Wickers, Sons & Co. AC p19.

Albert Norwood keeper, Born 1823-1888. He was married to keeper Tarbox’s sister. KL; NAMF-

A fog-bell tower, with Steven’s striking-apparatus, and a cast-steel bell, weighing 1315 pounds, has been established, and considerable repairs to the station have been made. CC (NARA).

Life Saving Station was established in District #1 which includes Biddeford Pool. The station was constructed on Fletchers Neck (Biddeford Pool). These people often worked with the keepers to insure maritime safety. AC p4.

1874 (March)
The George Osborn wrecks on Negro Ledge. JPF.

6000 lbs of Hake were caught in one night by 3 men in a schooner off Wood Island. Often Saco Bay harbored as many as 200 herring smacks during peak season. AC p1.
The exterior walls of the dwelling were covered with clapboards and painted. The roof of the kitchen was rebuilt, floor relaid, chimney repaired. CC (NARA).

Seining for mackerel and herring was a common occupation in Saco Bay during the 19th century. In the 1880’s a Frenchman lived on the west end of Wood Island and made his living by selling alcohol to fleets of fishermen. Brawls were common among the crews who frequented the Frenchman’s shack. One night, a man decided to set fire to the building. Amid the drinking, the fire seemed entertaining, it hit the alcohol and flames hurled into the night. Flames could be seen 20 miles out to sea. AC p2.

Seaborn commerce in Maine and New Hampshire is at its’ peak. Granite, ice, lumber and hay were profitable cargos from Maine. Coal, food, farm equipment and household appliances on return. KOL.

The dwelling cellar floor was cemented and the boat slip rebuilt. CC (NARA).

The exterior walls of the dwelling were repainted, two coats, white. CC (NARA).

The Alice G. Norwood wrecked on north side of Stage Island on September 29th. All survived. There was an average of two shipwrecks a year from recorded history until 1915. AC p5; JF; ERS.

1886 (March)
The Alice T. Bailey wrecked near the Life Station (on Ocean Ave., Biddeford Pool), all of the crew survived. AC p5; ERS; BDJ.

1886 (November)
Clear the Track wrecked on Wood Island, all crew rescued, cargo of bricks lost, these bricks may have been made in Biddeford. AC p5; BDJ; ERS.

Thomas Henry Orcutt was keeper for 19 years. Born 1833-1906. He served with his family and dog Sailor. Sailor became famous for unfailingly ringing a salute on the fog bell to nearby vessels who sounded their whistle or bell as they came close to Wood Island. With his strong teeth, he would grab the cord attached to the fog bell and give a lusty pull. The clang on the great tocsin would echo across the island and out over the water to the passing craft. LHD 6/2002; numerous newspaper articles from from many different states.

The Schooner Western Light was wrecked with a cargo of household items. Captain Gear was in charge. All was lost and as it washed ashore but items were picked up and used by Biddeford Pool residents. (Summer) AC p5; JF; ERS.

1888 (December)
George Cushing wrecked on Richmond Island. JPF.

The reservation was surveyed and its boundary lines durably marked. CC (NARA).

1887 (November)
American Schooner “George and Albert” wrecked near Wood Island. MHASI

One evening the schooner Cora Van Gilder ran aground on rocks near Fletchers Neck (now Biddeford Pool). As the Captain waited for the tide to free his ship naturally, some residents of the Pool rowed out to see if they could help. Captain Gear declined their help – He indicated that his wife was sick with small pox. Some men scurried away but three remained and took the sick woman to a building on Wood Island. The keeper and family took care of the woman until a doctor arrived. Captain Gear’s wife recovered and no one else became ill. AC p6; NAD; JF.

Ground plans of the buildings were made. CC (NARA).

The boat-slip was extended 80 feet, and about 750 feet of boundary fence of barbed wire, with cedar
posts, was built to inclose the light-house land. A 1200 bell of bell-metal was hung, to replace the old steel bell, which was badly corroded. CC (NARA).

A barn, 18 by 25 feet in plan, and a plank walk 60 feet long inside the boatslip, were built. CC (NARA).

1892 (April)
The Index wrecked on Stage Island. JPF.

1890 (November)
Tugboats ‘Express’ and ‘Willard and Clapp’ listed and filled during exceptionally low tide
in the Saco River. They were tied up at Factory Island wharf. BDJ.

1894 (December) Idaho wrecked between Wood Island and the Pool. BDJ.

Tragic murder/suicide. An intoxicated island resident, brandishing a shotgun, shot and killed a lobsterman who attempted to disarm him. Distraught, the man sought advice from Keeper Orcutt who advised him to turn himself in to the mainland authorities. Instead, the man went to his cabin and took his own life. AC p7; LOM.

1896 (February)
The Majestic wrecked on Beach Island off the Pool. BDJ.

1897 (August)
The 3 masted American Coastal Schooner, Howard W. Middleton, on her way to Portland with
a cargo of coal struck ledge in Saco Bay. RL; JPF; BDJ.

1898 (June)
The schooner Grecian Bend wrecked off of OOB. (December) Debris took out part of the pier. JS; BDJ.

1898 (November)
American Schooner “Queen of the West” wrecked near Fletchers Neck in route from Boston to Bangor. MHASI; BDJ.

1900 (December)
Two masted Schooner Fannie & Edith, wrecked in Saco Bay RL; BDJ.

1900 (December)
The R.P. Chase wrecked at the Pool in the Gut. BDJ.

1900 (December)
The Thomas B. Reed wrecked at the Pool in the Gut.BDJ.

1903 (June)
Five Masted Schooner Washington B. Thomas, bound from Virginia to Portland with cargo of
4226 tons of coal, wrecked on reefs of Stratton Island, Saco Bay. RL; BDJ; other books.

1903 (June)
Unknown ship wrecked on Stratton Island, Saco Bay. BDJ.

Oil storage house is built. Amy Cole Ives, Maine Historic Preservation Commission; CC (NARA).

The US Government Steam Launch 284 wrecked on Little Beach Island of South Point, Biddeford Pool. ID; OOM.

Three schooners from St. John carrying cordwood to Boston were lost on their return trip (lacking ballast). AC p5. Last major lighthouse built in Maine. KOL. The Annie L. Wilder caught fire and burned carrying a load of lime. The entire harbor area around Biddeford Pool was aglow. JS April 14; BDJ; JPF; other books. A boundary fence was built and repairs were made to the dwelling house and walks. CC (NARA).

Charles A. Burke keeper. KL; NAMF-M1373; MA Record Group 26 Entry 80.

Keeper’s house remodeled – roof raised dormers added creating a Dutch Colonial style. Clapboards were added to the house. AC p2.

1906 (November)
American Schooner “Marshall Perrin” wrecked on Wood Island. Captain and cook lost their lives. MHASI; BDJ; JPF; other books.

1907 (November)
The Susan Stetson loaded with coal sank off of Biddeford Pool, bound from New Jersey to Camden, Maine. BDJ.

1907 (November)
The Jonathan Sawyer wrecked of Cape Porpoise with load of coal intended for the Pepperell Manufacturing Company. She had previously wrecked on the rocks of Martha’s Vineyard the same trip but was refloated. BDJ.

1909 (July)
Gas powered launch Item, capsized near Wood Island. 31 passengers were aboard. Two women drowned. Help came from President Taft’s boat.. JS; BDJ.

1909 (October)
Canadian Schooner “Valetta” wrecked on Wood Island. She had a load of wood and was coming from St. Johns New Brunswick bound for Boston. She struck Dansbury ledge. MHASI; BDJ; EA.

The SS Gannett from Portsmouth put 150 seed lobsters (10,000,000 lobster fry), into the water between Wood Island and Biddeford Pool. JS

C.B Staples was keeper. NA Record Group 26 Entry 80.

W.F. Lurvey was keeper except during his hospitalization from 9/20/1922 to 10/25/1922. When E.W. Murphy and C.E. Tracy acted as substitutes. NA Record Group 26 Entry 80.

1917 (May)
American Gas Screw “Rara Avis” crushed near Biddeford Pool. MHASI; BDJ; JPF.

1917 (January)
American Schooner “Roger Drury” foundered near Biddeford Pool. MHASI; JPF; BDJ.

1917 (March)
The Wabash wrecks on Richmond Island. JPF.

1920 (October)
American Schooner “Fred Tyler” blown onto Big Beach at the Pool. She was bound west with full cargo of lumber. MHASI; BDJ; JPF.

1923 (April)
American Screw “Anahuac” stranded on rocks near Fortunes Rocks. MHASI; JPF; BDJ; Books.

Albert Staples was keeper. NA Record Group 26 Entry 80.

1925 (October)
American Schooner “C.N. Gilmore” goes ashore on Wood Island. MHASI; JPF; BDJ; EA.

1925 (August)
Southward lll wrecks on Richmond Island. JPF.

George Woodward was keeper. NA Record Group 26 Entry 80.

“Old Glory,” a plane flown by J.D. Hill and Lloyd Bertrand, under partnership with William Randolph
Hearst, landed in Old Orchard Beach. Three days later, September 6, the plane departed for Rome
via Harbor Grace, Newfoundland. Upon take off the plane carried 1179 gallons of fuel with a combined
weight of nearly 13,000 pounds. She was only about 20 feet in the air and struggling as she flew over
Saco and headed toward Biddeford Pool. She struggled, but fortunately as she neared Wood Island
Light, she began to climb. Fourteen hours later she crashed and the crew was lost. JS

The US Army decided to cut remaining trees for defensive purposes. AC p3

The freighter Sagamore struck Corwin’s Ledge off Prouts Neck, Saco Bay. She was bound from Portland to New York. BDJ; RL

Earle Benson served as keeper. He was the last to serve under the USLHS. KL

The Coast Guard took over the US Light House Service. There were 1170 keepers in the USLHS
at that time. The USLHS celebrated its 150th anniversary this year. It was administered by
the Light House Establishment 1789-1852; by the Light House Board 1852-1910; and by the
Bureau of Light Houses 1910-1939. KL; ATN.

Earle Benson joined the Coast Guard and became the first keeper under the Coast Guard. BM2 Forrest S. Cheney and BM3 Edwin R. Duquette were alternates. During Benson’s tenure the lantern light was actually a delicate mantle, which was fueled by oil. The light from these mantels was sent through powerful lenses. The mantles would survive from one night to a week. The keeper had to watch over them. carefully.AC p 16; York Co. Star 6/8/1983; Jim Seward; NARA NE Region; N A Record Group 26 Entry 80 and 330.

John Rodgers keeper???? (perhaps an alternate). LHM.

EN3 Edward G. Frank is keeper. He and wife Eloise start in January. Son Steven is born April, 1953, he comes to the island at 2 weeks old. Keeper Frank’s school aged stepdaughter Michele lived with the family at the lighthouse during the summers. BM2 Forrest S. Cheney, BM3 Edwin R. Duquette & SN R.M. Sawtelle acted as alternates in 1952. SN Richard M. Sawtelle acted as alternate in 1953 and 1954. EN2 Manuel G. Macara and FA Joseph J. Andrew in 1955. FA Joseph J. Andrews acted as alternate in 1956. NA Record Group 26 Entry 330.

BM2 Gerald E. Ryan started out as keeper but was replaced by David A. Katon around June. BM 3 David A. Katon served as keeper. EN3 David G. Crider, Manuel G. Macara, Jr. and EN3 Harrison E. Parker acted as alternates. In 1958, FN Bruce A Creswell, SN Richard M. Gramlich, SN Constantine H. Szczechowicz acted as alternates.KL; NARA Record Group 26 Entry 330.

The Lantern light with its mantles were replaced with electric lights powered by generators. York County Star 6/8/1983.

Laurier Burnham and wife Lily keepers. They had two young daughters Tammy and Holly. Laurier was assigned by the Coast Guard to put on the new red roof. Edward J. Conner and SN Spencer N. Graham acted as alternates in 1959. SN Spencer N. Graham and BM1 Lee Merrick acted as alternates in 1960. SN Constantine H. Szczechowicz, Raymond Bill, Sr., ENS Bryon H. Stauffer, BM1 James E. Murray and SA Alan L. George acted as alternates in 1961. SN Martin P. Haas, SN Alan L. George, Wasil W. Johnson, BM3 Frank D. Harmon and BM1 Jack B. Netherwood acted as alternates in 1962. AC p9; Interview with Lily & Holly Burnham, 12/29/03; NARA Record Group 26 Entry 330 & P-95.

1960 (November 29)
Tammy Burnham, Keeper Laurier Burnham’s daughter, became ill. She required hospitalization. The weather was stormy and a the thirty foot Coast Guard lifeboat with a small skiff aboard was dispatched to Wood Island to transport the ailing two year old. The skiff manned by two seamen (Ed Syvinski and Raymond Bill) was sent to the island boat ramp to pick up the sick child and transport her to the lifeboat. After Tammy was loaded into the skiff and it was on its’ was way back to the lifeboat, it was overturned by a huge swell throwing Tammy and the two seamen into icy, fog- layered waters. After an hour, the girl and the 19 year old Syvinski were feared lost, though Raymond Bill was plucked from the sea. Keeper Burnham launched his peapod intending to search the 14 islands in the bay until he found his daughter. Fortunately they were on the first island, which he searched. He managed to get both Tammy and Ed Syvinski into his peapod and back to the Coast Guard thirty footer. Tammy made it to the hospital in time thanks to the efforts of all the crew of the boat and a lobsterman Preston Alley. All survived. AC p9; Interview with Lily and Holly Burnham,12/29/2003; Article “The Hero Among Us”, The Rotunda Review, Rotunda West, Florida, May 1993 (direct interview with Laurier Burnham); many other resources (some variations in details); Interview with Captain John Kennedy and Engineman Rouleau.

Jack B. Netherwood keeper, also listed Roger O. Shaw. NA Record Group 26 Entry P-95.

Electricity installed on Wood Island via the under water cable. Interview with Lily & Holly Burnham, 12/29/03.

EN2 David K. Winchester was keeper. Also listed was SNCS James Willis and SN Clifton M. Wood. NA Record Group 26 Entry P-95.

BM# David P. Bichrest was keeper (promoted to BM2 in 1966). George Tevis (Sp?) and Perley Or Peiley Sprague acted as alternates in 1965. EN3 John P. Reidy acted as alternate in 1966. NA. Record Group 26 Entry P-95.

Bullseye Fresnel lens, 600,000 candlepower in place. KL.

1965-1969 (?)
Lantern Room was removed from the tower and the original 1000 watt Frensnel lens was replaced by an old FA-125 rotating airport beacon. AC p3 (this source says 1972); interview with Cliff Trebilcock (keeper 1970-72) and Andrew Pruneau (keeper 1972); photo in Biddeford-Saco Journal 6/16/1969.

Coast Guard replaced the bell with a modern foghorn. AC p19 Bell later washed into the sea but was recovered and sat on the island until 1976. LHD 6/2002. N

1967 (February)
BM3 A.J. Savageau (sp?) becomes keeper. SN Peiley Sprague is also listed. A Record Record Group 26 Entry P-95.

1968 (August)
AM2 Ronald A Handfield became keeper (OC) replaced by EN2 James J. Roche in December 1968. James Roche is still OC in 1969 but was replaced by Clifford E. Trebilcock who remained OC in 1970 where the log records stop. KL; NA Record group 26 Entry P-95.

28 of islands 35 acres were deeded to Maine Audubon Society. WIL website

Cliff Trebilcock was keeper with his wife and small son. Interview with Cliff 8/29/2003; NA Record Group 26 Entry P-95.

Andrew Ralph Pruneau Keeper with wife Judy pregnant and due December 26th. Interview with Mr. Pruneau , 11/21/03

Jerry Murray Keeper with wife Susan Murray and daughter Jessica. KL; Portland Press Harold 4/26/1976.

US Coast Guard abandoned its plans to automate Wood Island Light. EJ ( 12/8/1976).

Michael McQuade with wife Patsy was keeper. KL; Patsy McQuade.

Marshall Alexander got the idea to bring the bell to the mainland. Securing permission from the Coast Guard, Alexander hauled the bell to shore in his boat, the De-Dee-Mae and left it in the yard of George Day, the local harbormaster. The Coast Guard soon changed its mind regarding the bell and, instead, promised it to a museum in Delaware. Local residents were furious and refused to yield the bell and chained it to a tree. After a political struggle which necessitated the aid of Senator Edmund Muskie, the Coast Guard again reversed its position and the bell was installed at the Union Church. It was later moved to Vines Landing at the gut where it stands today. AC p 19; JM.

Russ Lowell keeper with wife Terry. AC p 8 & 9; Russ and Terry Lowell.

1981 (March)
American Schooner “Fleetwing” ran into difficulty near Biddeford Pool. MHASI

1986 (August 1-October 1)
Merton Perry keeper alternating with Warren Rowell (2 days on 2 days off – every other weekend). Journal Tribune 8/28/86

To bring the lighthouse back to its historic stature, a `1500 pound cupola was added. A crew of 3 people fabricated the lantern at the Coast Guard’s Industrial Support Detachment in South Portland, Maine. Chris MacNamara, a very skilled craftsman/metal worker was one of those working on the lantern room. Chris Ledwith was another in the crew. It is welded aluminum, no castings were used. It has a very authentic appearance from the outside. On the inside one can see that it was fabricated from structural aluminum typically used in boat building. It was installed by helicopter. AC p3: E-mails from Marsha Levy, architect who has done work on Wood Island keepers house.

Light was automated and the last keeper was sent home. AC p3

The walkway was rebuilt and the old walkway was removed from the island. The submarine cable was repaired. The well and pump were repaired. The buildings were re-roofed. House was made weather tight. The roof drainage was redirected to the ground instead of into the leaky cistern in the basement. E-mails from Marsha Levy, Architect in charge of project; Joe Tully, engineer in charge of the project.

The Lighthouse Digest placed Wood Island Light on its’ doomsday list. LHD 6/1992

33 years after their effort, The Coast Guard presented Laurier Burnham and Edward Syvinski awards for their extraordinary heroism in the Tammy Burnham rescue. An award was also presented posthumously to lobsterman Preston Alley for his participation in the rescue. AC p13; WIL website; E. Syvinski; Lily and Holly Burnham; McArthur Library.

2000 (June)
An archeological survey was carried out by Stephan Claesson for the Coast Guard. The primary objective was to examine a 5 foot wide corridor approximately 63 ft. in length, a 30 x 15 ft. area, and an 8 x 5 ft area for cultural resources. The survey was to determine the presence or absence of prehistoric properties under the proposed site for the solar panels and related equipment. Stephan Claesson.

2001 (July)
The steel Wickers bell which had sat on the island from 1890-1976, was moved from Union Church to Vine’s Landing mini-park. Courier.


April 6) A new Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation (founded in 1994) was formed and called “The Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse”. Its’ purpose is to  restore and maintain the lighthouse and make it available for cultural and educational purposes.

2004 (May)
New craft “Light Runner” is delivered to FOWIL. Captains Sean Murphy and Mal Stallings
were in charge of craft for her shake down cruise. FOWIL.

2004 (July)
FOWIL had its first Fresh Paint Day headed up by Caryn Firebaugh. Also Island tours were
started. FOWIL.

2005 (September)
New England Ghost Project investigates Wood Island Lighthouse for paranormal activity.

2005 (July)
FOWIL had its second Fresh Paint Day headed up by Caryn Firebaugh. Island tours continue. FOWIL.

2005 (September)
New England Ghost Project investigates Wood Island Lighthouse for paranormal activity.


FOWIL has an official logo designed.

2006 (January)
Keeper Jerry Murray passed away.

2006 (July)
FOWIL put on its fundraiser “Haunting Event.”

2007 (Spring)
FOWIL merchandise is ordered and first sales begin.

2006 (August 12)
Keeper Cliff Trebilcock marries Linda Doughty at the lighthouse.

2007 (August 27)
FOWIL and ALF host Senator Susan Collins on Wood Island to learn about the lighthouse.

2008 (July)
FOWIL installs new handrails in the lighthouse tower, which allows tour guests to climb to the lantern room.

2008 (August)
FOWIL celebrates the 200th anniversary of Wood Island Lighthouse.

2008   (August)

FOWIL has the fundraiser “Capture the Coast” at Nonantum.

2009   (September)

Coast Guard offers its first Open Lighthouse Day, FOWIL participates.

2009 – 2010 (Fall – Spring)
FOWIL hires Stone Age Masonry to carry-out the first major restoration of the lighthouse by stripping, repairing, and repainting the interior and exterior of the lighthouse tower.

2010   (Fall)

Fundraiser “Ghost Hunt” was held overnight on the island.

2010   (September) FOWIL participates in the Coast Guard’s Open Lighthouse Day.

2011   (June) FOWIL participates in Saco Museum/Dyer Library’s BIG READ by giving Pirate Tours to the lighthouse.

2011   (Early Spring)

The transformer on the island fails.

2011  (Early Spring)  Wood Island Lighthouse given the “best bargain” award by Yankee magazine.

2011 (July – December)
FOWIL hires Jim Leslie and Company to restore the exterior of the Keeper’s house and the roof of the connector. Approved by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, the restoration targets the time period of 1906, and the Keeper’s house open-air porch design.

2011  (September)

FOWIL participates in Coast Guard’s Open Lighthouse Day.


Flag pole and/or tower sustained a lightning strike.


FOWIL (with Light Runner) participates in the Saco 250th anniversary parade.

2012   (June)

Spring Work Day – “Post 1906” materials were removed from the interior of the Keeper’s house.


FOWIL initiates a new online tour reservation system.

2012   (Summer)

FOWIL contracts with Jim Leslie Masonry to install a new door on the boat house and repair the flooring.

2012   (Summer) FOWIL produces its first Annual Report and Business Plan.

2012   (August)

A  Cocktail Reception was held overlooking the harbor and lighthouse. The only print of Winslow Homer’s painting “Moonlight, Wood Island Light” was auctioned off. At precisely at the time of our toast to the Lighthouse, tower was lit up in the distance.


FOWIL hosts the Wireless Society of Southern Maine on the island for their special Lighthouse broadcast.

2012   (September)

FOWIL participates in the Coast Guard’s Open Lighthouse Day.


Ghost Hunt fundraiser was held.

2012   (Fall through Dec)

FOWIL contracts with Jim Leslie Masonry to restore the connector  building and  paint the lantern room.

2012   (Fall through Dec)

New “folding” flag pole and webcam pole were installed.

2012   (December)

The Coast Guard removed the VRB25 rotating beacon and replaced it with the more modern VLB-44/2.5 LED beacon. This new space age looking light  requires nearly no maintenance and has an amazing life span of 10 years and will  bring higher efficiency and cost savings to the Federal Government. (ALF)


Light Runner undergoes repair. Her bottom paint was removed by soda blasting.  A new Honda motor was purchased and installed.

Copies of most all of the following are on file with the History Group

AC with page reference: Alan Casavant’s original research done in March 2003. Bibliography attached (we don’t have an electronic
version of this bibliography)

ATN: Chronology of Aids to Navigation and the United States Lighthouse Service 1716-1939 by Truman R. Strobridge,
former U.S. Coast Guard Historian

BDJ: Biddeford Daily Journal.

CC: Candace Clifford (researcher in Washington DC)

CP: Coastal Pilot

DY:Dane York, “A History and Stories of Biddeford”, Mc Arthur Library 974.1B584y

EA: Easter Argus

EJ: Elaine Jones ( Maine Department of Marine Resources).

ERS: Edward Rowe Snow, “Great Storms and Shipwrecks off the New England Coast”.

GOL: Goldthwaite Family Genealogy by Peter Goldthwaite 2000

JER: Files of Jeremy D’Entremont, Porthsmouth Light, New Hampshire.

JF: Joyce Falkenbury, descendent of keeper Thomas Henry Orcutt – old news articles.

JM: Keeper Jerry Murray.

JPF: John Perry Fish “Unfinished Voyages: A Chronical of Shipwrecks”.

JS:Jeffrey A. Scully, “It Happened Right Here,” McArthur Library, R974.195B584Sc

JOS: Joseph Smith, “Gleanings From the Sea.”

ID: Iona Desmond – holder of the honorary binoculars with inscription.

KL: Keepers List researched by Judy MacGillvray and Shirley Stallings

KOL:Hans Christian Adamson, “Keepers of the Lights,” 1955, McArthur Library, R910.4A22

HH: Harold Hanson is a direct descendent of Nathanial Verrill – interviewed 2005

LHM: Light House Museum. (also referred to as the Museum of Lighthouse History), Box of file
folders (entitled Wood Island) referenced by title of folder.

LHD: Light House Digest

LOM: Lighthouses of the Maine Coast, Robert Thayer Sterling, 1935

MHASI: Maine Historic Archaeological Sites Inventory

NAD: Jeanette Nadreau: research which came to us via e-mail and web pages. Research is

NAMF – M1373: National Archives Microfilm M1373 Coast Guard Payment records.

NARA NE: National Archives North East Region, Waltham Massachusetts.

NA Record Group 86 National Archives Record Group 86

NOR: Norwood File: research and original documents held by Bob Norwood and which came to us via
e-mail and in person at a FOWIL History Group meeting 9/17/03.

OOM: Old Orchard Mirror (Iona Desmond)

PPL: Portland Public Library.

RL: Rodney Laughton, “Images of America – Scarborough”

SC: Stefan Claesson

WT: William Thomas, “Coastal Ghosts and Lighthouse Lore”.