Keeper Hilton

The following article was in the Maine Coast Fisherman, August, 1948.

by W.H. Ballard

H.L. Kilton, Keeper at the Doubling Point Range Lights Station, is probably endowed with about as many lighthouses and bells to care for as any one man in the service. The fact that this veteran of twenty-three years’ lighthouse tending is single handedly covering what could well be the most extensive station on the coast is a tribute to his ability.

Mr. Kilton lives, with his wife, at the Range Lights dwelling, the Doubling Point dwellings having been sold off some years ago. From there he attends to the two octagonal towers known as the range lights, at the lower end of Fiddler’s Reach in the Kennebec. Up the reach some 1075 feet and reached by two bridges on a path along the ledges is the Fiddler’s Reach fog signal, and at the upper end of the reach, a half mile from the dwelling is the Doubling Point lighthouse and bell.

Mr. Kilton has been on the station for three years, being a civilian keeper, and thoroughly enjoys it. The whole place was in apple-pie order with a neatly-cut lawn sloping off to an eye-catching view down the Kennebec. He doesn’t seem to be worried about slogging over to Fiddler’s Reach fog signal to wind his bell every four hours in fog and snow. As for the trip to Doubling Point when things go wrong in the winter - he snowshoes.

The two Range Lights were built in 1898, one being 235 yards inland from the other. The lower light is 18 feet above the river and the upper beacon is 33 feet. Both are fixed, white, 23-watt electric lights, which are picked up by boats bound upriver as they leave Ram Island. The Fiddler’s Reach fog signal is a second district bell on the usual pointed tower. It was installed in 1914 after the Ranson B. Fuller grounded at the spot. The clock-work striker is operated from a 1200-pound weight and the keeper can start the bell tolling from the dwelling by means of an electric tripper.

Over at the Doubling Point light, the clockwork mechanism stands idle while the bell is rung by an electric striker which can likewise be started from the Range Lights dwelling. As the bell is too far from the house to be heard by the keeper, a phone is set up by the hammer, and the bell can be heard over the wires at the dwelling. The light at the point is an automatic flashing white gas burner, which can store a year’s supply of fuel. As it is in sight of the draw tenders on the Carlton Bridge at Bath, they notify keeper Kilton when trouble develops.

Although situated on Arrowsic Island and within reach of power lines, the station generates its own electricity with an 11 volt Kohler power system charging into a bank of batteries.

You folks who like to fish should hear what Mr. Kilton says about the striped bass that are being taken in Fiddler’s Reach and one of the good spots is on the ledge below the signal, where the tide runs strong.