Maine’s Baker Island is about four miles southeast of the much larger Mount Desert Island. A lighthouse was established on the highest point of the island in 1828. The early history of the light station is very much tied into the history of the family of William and Hannah Gilley. The Gilleys had taken possession of the island in the early 1800s, and William was appointed as the island’s first lighthouse keeper. The original tower was replaced in 1855 by the 43-foot-tall cylindrical brick tower that still stands today. The keeper’s house has been unoccupied since the light was automated in 1957.
Baker Island Light Station is now owned by the National Park Service as part of Acadia National Park, while the Coast Guard maintains the navigational light. There are Acadia National Park ranger-led tours of the island from Bar Harbor in the summer. Keepers of Baker Island is a nonprofit that was formed to support the National Park Service with the care and upkeep of the island’s natural and cultural landscape. Cornelia Cesari, our guest in this episode, is an island resident and the president of the board of directors of Keepers of Baker Island. Cornelia is also the author of the book Baker Island, released in 2018 by Arcadia Publishing.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org