When one conjures up an image of Maine’s lighthouses you may generally think of the tourist attraction icons of such towers as Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, Pemaquid Point Light in Bristol that now appears on the new State’s Quarter, or the famous Nubble Light in York.
However most do not know the amazing stories behind Maine’s nearly 70 lighthouses that are still standing. How about the man who owned a Maine lighthouse and ran for governor and even the presidency; the lighthouse keeper’s house that was the inspiration for an Alfred Hitchcock movie; the lighthouse dogs who saved ships; the Maine lighthouse image launched into space or the frozen lovers saved by a lighthouse keeper.
These and many more is the subject of a new documentary, Lighthouses of Maine, A Journey Through Time that made its world premiere at The Movies on Exchange Street in Portland this past Saturday.
To a standing room only crowd, Maine’s United States Congressman Tom Allen addressed the lighthouse aficionados who had gathered from around the state to view the historic first showing of the film. Congressman Allen, speaking before the film began, stressed the importance of saving lighthouse history for future generations so they would be able to understand the vital role they played in the development of our nation.
Tim Harrison, president of the Wells based nonprofit American Lighthouse Foundation and editor of Lighthouse Digest, who narrated the film was also on hand to give a pep talk to the crowd about the importance of saving lighthouses. Congressman Allen, who helped pass the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act into law in 2000, praised the enthusiasm of Harrison and the others in the lighthouse preservation movement for working tirelessly to save our endangered lighthouses and the stories that go with them.
Produced by Jeff Dobbs of Jeff Dobbs Productions in Bar Harbor, the film partially underwritten by a grant from the Maine based Lighthouse Depot Catalog, includes beautiful film footage of nearly every Maine lighthouse, including some no longer standing, some with dramatic aerial views and others shrouded in fog. With a dramatic musical score, the documentary also includes many rare and some never before published vintage images of lighthouses and the families that kept them.
Although the film truly is an historic “Journey Through Time,” as its title indicates, it is also a promo of sorts for the American Lighthouse Foundation; telling of their efforts to save a number of Maine’s lighthouses and their history. As Harrison says, “We have already lost so much of our states lighthouse history. Hopefully, when people view this film it will encourage them to look in that old truck in the attic, the family bible and those old photo albums and share with us those missing memories, photographs and artifacts so they can be saved and shared with future generations.”
As the film came to a conclusion in the theater, the silence was unbelievable as one could almost feel the emotion of the heartbeats and see the tears in the eyes of those in attendance. That’s what kind of documentary this is. As it comes to a close, you suddenly realize how much of Maine’s lighthouse history has been lost and how much more could soon be lost forever.
Lighthouses of Maine, A Journey Through Time, is currently only available from Lighthouse Depot for $19.95 plus shipping at their retail store in Wells, by calling them at 1-800-758-1444 or on their web site at www.LighthouseDepot.com.
This story appeared in the
December 2003 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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