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Marking the entrance to Cutler Harbor, Maine, the Little River Lighthouse Station was established in 1847 with a rubble stone tower and keeper's house. In 1855 the original lantern was replaced with a new cast iron lantern equipped with a fourth order Fresnel lens. The current tower was built in 1876 re-using the 1855 lantern from the original tower. The new tower was built from cast iron plate lined with brick. The keeper continued to live in the original keeper's house until 1888 when it was replaced with the 1.5 story wood frame Victorian house that remains today. The station was automated in 1974. The tower was deactivated in 1975 and replaced by a skeleton tower.
The Little River Lighthouse was the first lighthouse in New England to be transferred from U.S. Coast Guard ownership under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. Now a steward of the American Lighthouse Foundation, the tower was repaired and relit in 2001. The ALF completed a full restoration of the 1888 keeper's house and continued efforts to restore the entire light station. Construction, maintenance and repair projects have been undertaken not only by members of the ALF, but by the US Coast Guard, Local Boy Scout troops and other volunteers. The ALF's goal was for a total restoration of the light station that would be open to the public. In August of 2007 some milestones occurred, the formation of the Friends of Little River Lighthouse as an official chapter of the ALF, and the first public overnight stay in the Keeper's house. The Friends of Little River Lighthouse has maintained seasonal resident "Keeper's" on the Island to facilitate overnight stays, open houses, historical interpretation and even a wedding in 2010. One of their most recent projects known as the "Lighthouse Endeavor" has the station occupied by a modern day lighthouse keeper through the off season and winter. The Little River lighthouse continues to be an active aid to navigation displaying a white flash every 6 seconds from the white 41 foot tower topped by a green lantern room. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nov/Dec, 2012 Issue, Little River Lighthouse Seeks Help For "The Lighthouse Endeavor". By Timothy Harrison. "It hasn’t been done in the 164 year history of the lighthouse. But volunteers from Maine’s Little River Lighthouse, located on a remote island off the coast of Cutler, want to change that. They want to have a lone caretaker live on the island in isolation during the brutal winter months, as well as year ‘round, as part of a unique educational program that has never been done before. So, the Friends of Little River Lighthouse have launched a new program called the “Lighthouse Endeavor.” Please go to the Lighthouse Digest Magazine Archives to read this article. Lighthouse Digest magazine not only keeps the history of our lighthouses alive both in print and on line, but it is the best single source to keep current on all aspects of lighthouse preservation, news and events.
The Little River Lighthouse is located on Little River Island at the mouth of Cutler Harbor. The lighthouse is on the seaward side of the island and not readily visible from the mainland. The lighthouse is visible from the "Western Head Trail" located on the south side of the harbor. The nature trail is a couple of miles over rough terrain but provides close views of the Little River Lighthouse as well as distant views the Machias Seal Island and Southwestern Head Lights. The best views are by boat including Puffin watching cruises from Cutler to Machias Seal Island.
Directions: From US Route 1 in Machias, turn south - east onto state route 191. Continue just over 13 miles to Cutler, Maine. There are no restaurants or accommodations in Cutler so remember to bring anything you need with you.
Please visit and support the Friends of Little River Lighthouse. Information on history, seasonal open houses, reserving an overnight stay in the Keeper's house, party and wedding rentals, their on line gift shop and more can be found on their website.
Visit the American Lighthouse Foundation website for more information on the Little River Lighthouse.
Captain Andrew Patterson provides boat tours from Cutler Harbor that include close views of the Little River Lighthouse. Please visit the Bold Coast Charter Company web site for tour schedules and information.
For more photographs and history of the Little River Lighthouse, you can visit the: