Digest>Archives> Sep/Oct 2023

Disney Movie Featured the First West Quoddy Head Light


You can see an enlarged version of this picture by clicking here.
>> Click to enlarge <<
Shown on a movie theater lobby card are three of ...

In 1975, Ken Anderson, a long time Disney employee, who Walt Disney referred to as a “Jack-of-All-Trades,” was assigned as the animation art director for a new Disney film, Pete’s Dragon, that was based on an unpublished book manuscript by Seton Miller and S.S. Field. The plot of the story took place in a Maine fishing village around 1900, where a young orphan boy took refuge in a lighthouse with an old keeper, “Lampie,” and his daughter.

Ken worked alongside art director Jack Martin Smith for the duration of the film. According to a press release issued in 1977 upon the film’s release, Smith spoke of researching early 20th century Maine in order to add authenticity and realism to the story and bring credibility to the film. The greatest feat toward that end was the construction of a 52-foot lighthouse replica out on the cliffs of Point Buchon overlooking Morro Bay in California to use as the set. It cost $115,000 and took 50 men three weeks to complete. When the filming of the movie was finished, the lighthouse set was entirely dismantled with the intention of installing it either at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, but for whatever reason, that was never done.

The lighthouse in the Pete’s Dragon movie was named Passamaquoddy Light after the Federal Government’s suggested name and design of the first lighthouse at this site, which was submitted in 1807 by the United States Lighthouse Board in documents to Congress. The name was later shortened to West Quoddy Head Light.

The specifications for the design of the lighthouse stated that it was to be an octagon-shaped, tapered pyramid of wood, and 45 feet in height to the floor of the lantern: “The frame to be covered with good inch seasoned white pine boards feather edged, over which is to be laid a good coat of cedar or white pine (without sap) shingles and to be painted with three coats of good paint, the last two of which to be white.”

Since there are no photos in existence of the first West Quoddy Head Light, by looking at the details of the tower in the movie Pete’s Dragon, shown here, you will have a good idea of what that early light could have looked like. The first West Quoddy Head Light tower only lasted until 1831 when a rubblestone structure took its place. The classic red-and-white banded daymark was added around that time, and continued subsequently on the upgraded tower that was built in 1857 and remains there to this day.

This story appeared in the Sep/Oct 2023 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.

All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.

to Lighthouse Digest

USLHS Marker Fund

Lighthouse History
Research Institute

Shop Online

Subscribe   Contact Us   About Us   Copyright Foghorn Publishing, 1994- 2024   Lighthouse Facts     Lighthouse History