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Friends of Wood Island Light

Wood Island Lighthouse, Biddeford ca. 1890

Contributed by Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse
MMN Item 16422 Item Details
Wood Island Lighthouse, Biddeford ca. 1890
MMN Item 16422 Zoom

Description

Postcard of Wood Island Lighthouse created ca. 1898. This beacon located on the eastern end of Wood Island off the coast of Biddeford and Saco, helped mariners find their way into what was known as Winter Harbor (today's Saco Bay). The lighthouse or light station was maintained by a "keeper" and his family. The light was activated at night and on very dark days. The lantern room atop the tower was made of cast iron and housed a fourth order Fresnel lens. This lens design was developed by a French physicist named August Fresnel ca. 1822. The U.S. didn't start importing and using these lenses until 1841 and Wood Island did not receive a Fresnel lens until 1858. The tower had to be reconstructed in order to support the new lens. During the day the lens was covered by a curtain so that the harsh sunlight wouldn't discolor the glass lens. The stone wall was built by keeper Abraham Norwood sometime during his stay at Wood Island (1832-1841). Only a small portion is visible today (2005). The pyramidal building on the right was the fog bell tower established in 1873.

The postcard is in the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse collection.

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