A Dog Became Famous for Ringing the Bell At This Biddeford, Maine, Lighthouse More Than a Century Ago
There are some stories in Maine's rich history that can put a smile on your face, and this is one of them.
Wood Island Lighthouse in Saco Bay is incredible in its own right. It's the second oldest lighthouse in Maine and the 11th oldest lighthouse in the United States, and still shines a strong beacon of light today.
But it's the history behind the lighthouse, and in particular, one of its keepers and his dog, that bring so much notoriety to an otherwise quaint little structure.
According to the American Lighthouse Federation, Thomas Henry Orcutt took over as the keeper of Wood Island Lighthouse in 1896. When he arrived, he brought along his 2-month-old puppy named Sailor to join him during his tenure.
Sailor was thought to be a Scotch Collie, and took a fascination to vessels that passed by the lighthouse. Eventually, that fascination turned to action for Sailor. When ships would sail by and toot their horns, Sailor would run to the lighthouse fog bell and ring it as a response, according to the American Lighthouse Federation
This delighted ship captains, and stories of the bell-ringing dog began spreading across the country.
And they most certainly spread. Stories about Sailor popped up in newspapers in states like Georgia and Wisconsin. Eventually, Sailor became so famous, local tour boats would divert close enough to the lighthouse to trigger Sailor into ringing the fog bell for fascinated tourists.
Sailor spent all 9 years of his life as keeper Orcutt's dog at the Wood Island Lighthouse. Just a few short months after Sailor's passing, Orcutt himself passed away from an illness. But the memory of Sailor lives on as perhaps Maine's very first celebrity pet.