Supply basket returns to working order at Nubble Lighthouse in Maine
CAPE NEDDICK, Maine — A basket that ran supplies and even people from the famous Cape Neddick Light (commonly known as Nubble Light or the Nubble) to the mainland, has been restored to working order for the first time in four years.
Matt Rosenberg, the current lighthouse keeper for the past five years says the use of the basket again will be incredibly helpful to his job.
"Without a functioning basket, everything that needs to go to the lighthouse has to be carried down the rocks, then put into a boat and rowed across. On the other side, it must be carried up a boat ramp, 35 steps up the stairway, and up an elevated walkway to the house," Rosenberg said.
The Nubble Lighthouse's Facebook page posted late last week the restorations on the basket were complete.
The history of the Nubble goes back almost 150 years. Funding for the lighthouse was appropriated by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1874, it opened in 1879 and was owned by the U.S. government until they transferred ownership to the the US Coast Guard in 1939.
To help bring supplies from the mainland to the lighthouse, a basket was installed in the 1950s. Groceries and other necessities were easily transferred from one side to the other without the use of a boat.
John Reidy, a lighthouse keeper from 1966-1967 wrote, "Getting supplies out to the Nubble was its own challenge. There was a peapod boat there, but it was seldom used, again because the ramp was not well sheltered. Further, there was not a dock on the mainland, available close by. Instead, a cable car ran from the mainland out to the island. This car was little more than a wooden box, about five feet square. A cable was suspended on telephone poles that were installed at both ends, and had platforms in place to load and unload whatever was needed."
Keepers David and Jaye Winchester thought of a creative use for the basket in the late 1960s. The couple started putting their 8-year-old son Ricky in the basket to go to school, 60 feet over the ocean. The basket was more reliable than the boat, which couldn't be used during high seas or storms. The Boston Globe published the photo along with an article in 1967 (shown above), and the Coast Guard responded by moving the family off the island and banning families with young children from serving as lighthouse keepers.
The light was automated in 1987, which marked the end of lighthouse keepers living on the island. The town of York assumed responsibility for the lighthouse in 1989.