Pictou Harbour is a spacious body of water that opens onto Northumberland Strait and is fed by three rivers, East River of Pictou, Middle River of Pictou, and West River of Pictou. Trenton is located on the eastern shore of East River, about seven kilometres upstream from Pictou Harbour. East River is navigable as far as New Glasgow, which is two-and-a-half kilometres above Trenton.
Trenton Range Lights were first established in 1920 as unwatched pole lights to guide ships up East River along the approach to Trenton. The front range light was placed 300 metres east of Stonehouse Point, and the rear range light was located roughly a kilometre southeast of the front light. The original front range light was fueled by acetylene gas, while its companion rear range light was electric.
A wooden pyramidal structure was erected in 1962 to serve as the front range light and worked in conjunction with a steel square tower operating as the rear light. The pair of lights originally bore diamond-shaped daymarks, but these were changed to vertical red stripes in 1986. In 2018, the lights were removed from atop the towers, and the range lights were discontinued. Both towers were left standing, but were already in poor condition.
The power plant on Stonehouse Point burned about 3.5 million tons of coal each year and produced enough electricity to power nearly 100,000 homes.