Digest>Archives> June 2002

Wood Island’s Famous Fog Bell in New Location

By Jeremy D'Entremont

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Wood Island Lighthouse (1808) is Maine’s second oldest lighthouse tower. Thomas Orcutt, a former sea captain, served as keeper at Wood Island from 1886 to 1905. His dog, Sailor, became famous for ringing the station’s fog bell with his mouth (or paws, according to one account). The dog was said to possess almost human intelligence. Sailor died in Orcutt’s arms just a year before the keeper himself died.

In the 1960s a storm swept Wood Island’s fog bell into the ocean. The bell was later recovered and was put on display on the grounds of the Union Church in Biddeford. The 130-year-old bell, which for a time became the source of a dispute between members of the Biddeford Pool Improvement Association and the Biddeford Historical Society, is now on display in a new setting at Vine’s Landing in Biddeford Pool. A plaque will be installed reading, “This bell, cast in England in 1872, was located at Wood Island Light, and tolled over these waters for many years, guiding mariners safely on their way.”

This story appeared in the June 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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