Range Light
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About the Range Lights

The Kennebec River Range, the only range lights in the First U.S. Coast Guard District, are unique in function, construction, and history.

Proposed for construction by the National Lighthouse Board in 1892, they were funded and built in 1898 and have operated on the Kennebec ever since. The Range Lights

The only range lights of Maine's 64 lighthouses, and among the very few wooden lighthouses in the country, the range lights are twin framed and shingled octagonal buildings, set 235 yards apart. The front light is 18 feet above mean high water, while the rear light is 33 feet above high water. The front light flashes continously, while the rear light shows six quick flashes and an interval.

The Kennebec has always carried heavy sea trade. Though the five-masted schooners no longer come to trade at Bath, Bath Iron Works builds destroyers, frigates, and cargo ships which need to pass up and down the lower ten miles of this fabled river. Because of the navigation to and from BIW, the U.S. Coast Guard has classified the lights as being "of military importance." Mariners coming upriver to Bath line up the two range lights as they pass Ram Island. They follow the lights up the channel until the Doubling Point Light is in view, and then swing to the west for Bath.

The Kennebec River Range Lights were among the very last in the country to be automated. Until 1990 a keeper always tended the range, as well as the Doubling Point and Squirrel Point Lights. One of the last keepers was a woman, Karen McLean, Bo'suns Mate, USCG.

The Fog Bell Tower In addition to the Kennebec River Range, the Range Light Keepers have been entrusted with the care of an historic fog bell tower one-half mile upriver from the lights. Since the Coast Guard removed the bell in 1972, the pyramidical structure has fallen into disrepair. The Keepers have undertaken its restoration, with the help of friends, and believe that the bell tower is likely the only Fog Signal of its type undergoing complete restoration. It is the aim of the Keepers to replace the bell and the "clockworks" that drove the striker for many years.

From the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath boat tours feature fine river views of the lights and bell tower.

See the cover article in May, 2008 Mathematics Teacher for technical information