Boothbay Harbor was a busy fishing port in the 19th and early 20th century. The islands upon which the Cuckolds station is located was first marked by a wooden tripod daymark. Because the daymark was of little use at nighttime or in foggy weather, a fog signal station was established in 1892. The Lighthouse Board Report for 1890 described the need for a fog signal station at Cuckolds as follows:
The Cuckolds consist of two rocky islets rising about 15 feet above high water in the westerly edge of the channel at the entrance to Booth Bay. They are dangerous of approach on their southern side on account of the reefs in that direction, and the shoals also extend half a mile to the westward of the western rock, but the eastward side of the eastern rock is quite bold-to. The flood current sets right on these rocks.
They are much dreaded by mariners in thick weather and are a great peril to a large number of vessels, as it is estimated that from three to four thousand enter the bay for refuge in Booth Bay Harbor, which is well protected and is one of the most useful and important harbors of refuge on the coast of Maine. It is therefore recommended that a fog-signal be placed on the Cuckolds of sufficient range to warn vessels of their approach.
In 1892 $25,000 were appropriated for the building of a fog signal station and keeper's house. Because the rock is only about 15 feet above high water at its highest point, it is washed by the sea in heavy storms. Therefore, a semicircular granite pier was constructed on the highest part of the island to support and raise the fog signal station structure above the storm waves. The fog signal was a steam-driven Daboll fog trumpet.
The attached keeper's dwelling was a duplex made from a hard pine frame and was well bolted to the ledge. It was attached to the fog signal building. The dwelling consisted of a 2-story structure with cross gable dormers on the upper half story. The duplex was built so one-half of the dwelling mirrored the other down the ridge of the roof. Each half consisted of a kitchen, pantry, and sitting room on the first level and two bedrooms on the second level.
In 1902 a new oil-powered fog signal was installed.
A light tower was added to the station in 1907 due to a high frequency of accidents, despite the fog signal. Due to limited space on the island, the light tower was mounted on top of the existing fog signal structure. The candlepower was 24,000 provided by an incandescent oil vapor lamp and fourth-order lens. The light was visible up to 13 miles.
In June 2004, under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, the Federal government invited interested and eligible entities to apply to acquire the Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station. Deemed excess to the United States Coast Guard, and threatened with destruction, the Cuckolds was at a critical turning point. In August 2004, a small, committed band of local citizens began the arduous task of developing an application to bring the Cuckolds back to our community.
Over a two-year period, through a competitive, multi-stage application and review process, our local team developed a 542 page, two-volume application that then required sign-off from eight different Federal and State agencies and/or sub-agencies. In April 2006, Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton signed the letter authorizing the local Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station Council to take control of the Cuckolds. On May 8, 2006, in a ceremony in Boston, Gerry Gamage, on behalf of our community, accepted the deed to the Cuckolds.
Now it’s ours. And now the real work begins!