Private navigational aids
were used for a number of years to aid mariners traveling on the
Kennebec River, heading to and from the shipbuilding center of Bath.
The federal government established several light stations in 1898,
including the Doubling Point Range Lights. The lights were established
on Arrowsic island to mark an extreme double turn in the channel at
Fiddler Reach. Mariners would line up the station's two lights to know
they were on course.
The octagonal, shingled wooden towers are unique in New
England. The front range light tower is 21 feet tall, and the rear
tower is 13 feet tall. The towers, which are 235 yards apart, both
originally held fifth-order Fresnel lenses.
U.S. Coast Guard
The keeper's house
A two-story Victorian keeper's dwelling and a shed were
also built in 1898. A boathouse was added in 1901 and an oil house in
1902. A raised wooden walkway above the marshy ground connects the
keeper's house to the two towers.
The grounding of the steamer Ransom B. Fuller in
1912 at Fiddler's Reach prompted the government to add a fog bell about
1100 feet upstream from the light station, mounted on a pyramidal
wooden tower that held automatic striking machinery. The bell remained
in use into the 1950s, when it was replaced by an electric horn.
Capt. Harry L. Nye, a former sea captain, was keeper 1921-37. Nye had
previously been keeper at Seguin Island Light. On one occasion,
herescued four young men who were drifting past Doubling Point on an
In 1938, Lucy Mae Woodward, the 10 year-old daughter of Keeper
William H. Woodward, drowned in the river within sight of the keeper's
house. Local residents and police tried valiantly but unsuccessfully to
revive the girl. It was reported that she may have suffered a slight
heart attack that caused her to fall.
Beginning in 1935, the keeper of the range lights had the
added duty of tending Doubling Point Light around the bend, as well as
the Fiddler's Reach fog bell. A 1948 article in the Maine Coast
Fisherman reported that Keeper H. L. Kilton didn't seem "to be
worried about slogging over to Fiddler's Reach fog signal to wind his
bell every four hours in fog and snow." The article continued, "As for
the trip to Doubling Point when things go wrong in the winter - he
In 1979, the Fresnel lenses were removed from the range
lights; they were replaced by 250 mm optics. (One of the original
lenses is now in Maine's newest lighthouse, Rockland Harbor Southwest
Light.) At the same time, the job of monitoring the range lights went
to the keeper at Squirrel Point Light.
|In 1982, the responsibility of looking after the lights
and fog signals at Doubling Point, Squirrel Point, and the range lights
was transferred to the Kennebec River Range Lights Station.
For several years, Second Class Petty Officer Karen McLean, one of the
few female lighthouse keepers under the Coast Guard, filled this
In February 1987, McLean's husband, Dan McLean, took charge of the
(Right: Karen and Dan
McLean, courtesy of Maine Lighthouse Museum.)
In 1990, the range lights became one of the last light
stations in the United States to be automated and destaffed. The rear
tower was renovated and painted in the summer of 1996.
Under the Maine Lights Program coordinated by the Island
Institute of Rockland, the property was transferred in 1998 to an
organization called the Range Light Keepers. The Range Light Keepers
was founded by Michael Kreindler and his wife, Michele Gaillard, along
with other concerned residents in the area.
Kreindler, who formerly worked on metal furniture for
avant-garde office designs in New York City, told the Boston Globe,
"My primary goal is to preserve these 100-year-old navigational devices
because they are a major piece of our national maritime history. I want
them to be there for all those lighthouse buffs with Nebraska license
plates who go off the beaten path to find them."
Range Light Keepers also has the responsibility of
looking after the old fog bell tower at Fiddler's Reach near the light
station, and they have been gradually restoring the structure. The
original 1200-pound bell was put on display at the U.S. Coast Guard
Academy in New London, Connecticut, it 1972.
A similar bell, donated by the U.S. Navy, is on display
outside Arrowsic Town Hall. Range Light Keepers' goal is to restore the
striking apparatus so that there will be a complete demonstration of a
mechanical fog signal.
The bell tower
The range lights continue as active aids to navigation, and
the optics are still serviced by the Coast Guard. The grounds are open
to the public; remember to respect the privacy of the residents. The
station, on a small dirt road off Doubling Point Road, is a bit
difficult to find by car. The lights are most easily seen from tour
boats leaving Bath and Boothbay Harbor.
For more information or to donate to the Range Light Keepers,
Range Light Keepers
58 Iron Mine Road
Arrowsic, ME 04530
following list of keepers is not complete. It is a work in progress,
and any additional information is welcomed and appreciated; you can
email me at email@example.com. If you copy this list to another site,
you do so at your own risk. I can't guarantee its accuracy.)
Harry L. Nye (1921-1937); William H. Woodward (c. 1938); H.L.
Kilton (1945-?); Joseph Robicheau (November 1981 to February 1982);
Karen McLean (Coast Guard, 1982-1987); Dan McLean (Coast Guard,