8 Maine Lighthouses near Cape Elizabeth
There are 3,478 miles of meandering shoreline in Maine and historically, the coast was protected by 65 active lighthouses. Maine lighthouses have played an important role in the wellbeing of our coastal communities for hundreds of years. Currently there are still over 60 picturesque lighthouses that have served, or continue to serve, as warning to mariners along our state's coastline, most now with automated lights and fog horns. When visiting Portland or Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, there are 8 nearby lighthouses that can be reached by car, or viewed from the water by boat.
Portland Headlight, Cape Elizabeth
The state's first lighthouse, the iconic Portland Headlight is one of the most visited lights in the country, and the most photographed on the east coast. The light has been painted by many famous artists including Edward Hopper, and his renowned painting is housed in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Portland Headlight was established in the late 1700s to mark Portland Harbor, then the country's busiest port. Located in Fort Williams State Park in Cape Elizabeth, the original tower measured 72 feet from base to lantern deck and was lit with 16 whale oil lamps. The history of the light and surrounding area is housed in a small Museum at Portland Head Light, in the former light keeper's quarters. The light was decommissioned in 1989 and the property was eventually deeded to the town of Cape Elizabeth, which also owns the surrounding 90-acre Fort Williams State Park. The State Park is the perfect location for family or company picnics, baseball games, kite flying and the perfect backdrop for wedding or wedding pictures. (From Inn by the Sea, turn right onto Rte. 77, right onto Shore Road, Right into Fort Williams State Park)
Two Lights, Cape Elizabeth
The area of Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth was originally the site of two working lighthouses. The West Light rotated and the East Light was fixed. They were the first twin lights in Maine. Built of stone in 1828, the original towers were replaced in 1874 with cast-iron structures. The West Light was shut down in 1924 and, while it was blacked during World War II, the East Light remains lit today. The East Light has the most powerful beacon on the New England coast, visible for 27 nautical miles. The lighthouses are near, but not inside, Two Lights State Park, 41 acres of rocky headlands. Standing high above the rocky coast and rolling surf, this park offers sweeping views of Casco Bay, a cliff walk and vistas of the open Atlantic. (From Inn by the Sea, go Right out of Inn, Right onto Two Lights Road, Left at fork toward lighthouse)
Ram Island Ledge Light
Ram Island, at the northern entrance to Portland Harbor, is surrounded by dangerous ledge. As far back as 1855 an iron spindle was erected as a navigational warning and a larger 50-foot wooden tripod was placed there in 1873. But when the 400-foot transatlantic steamer California went aground at Ram Island Ledge in a snowstorm in 1900, it was deemed time to build a lighthouse. The lighthouse reached a height of 90 feet, with the light 77 feet above sea level. An iron pier was added to the ledge and the kerosene lamp was first lit on January 23, 1905. The light was electrified 1958 by means of an underwater cable extending from Portland Head. In January 2001 the light was converted to solar power. Ram Island Ledge Light can be seen from Portland Headlight and passing boats.
Spring Point Ledge Light
Many vessels ran aground on the western ledge heading into Portland Harbor before this lighthouse was erected in 1886. Typical of the sparkplug style of that time, it is built on a cylindrical, cast-iron base, but the tower is made of brick. Living quarters were incorporated into the tower. The light was automated in 1934, and in 1951 a breakwater was constructed to connect it to the mainland. (From Inn by the Sea, Take Route 77 to Broadway, right on Broadway, right on Pickett Street and follow to the end. Turn left onto Fort Road and into the Parking area)
Portland Breakwater (Bug) Light, South Portland
This unique lighthouse at the end of the breakwater was designed to look like a Greek monument, with the cast-iron tower having Corinthian columns. Marking the south side entrance to Portland Harbor, it was built in the 1870s to replace the old light after the breakwater was extended. During World War II the breakwater was shortened again to make way for shipbuilding. The light was extinguished in 1942 and fell into disrepair until it was restored in 1989, after being donated to the city of South Portland. Summer movie goers enjoy outdoor family films at this site. (From Inn by the Sea, Take Route 77 to Broadway, right on Broadway, left on Pickett Street, then right onto Madison and follow the drive into Bug Light Park) Pictured above.
Halfway Rock Light
Located on a barren two-acre island halfway between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Small in Phippsburg this light isn’t open to the public but may be seen from the Portland Observatory in Portland and from tour boats or cruise ships. The lighthouse was built in 1871 to guide mariners into Portland Harbor. It was automated in 1976.
Wood Island Light
Located on Wood Island, an uninhabited 32-acre island close to Biddeford Pool, east of the Saco River. The light is open to the public for tours on special days but may be best viewed by boat. Most of Wood Island is protected by the Audubon Society as a bird sanctuary and hosts a wide variety of birds and nesting seagulls, common eiders and others. It is approximately 30 minutes south from Inn by the Sea by car.
If you want to venture further north along the coast, another unusual lighthouse is Pemaquid Light, commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1827, and is the lighthouse that appears on the American quarter. This is a working light owned by the Coast Guard. The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park is located at the entrance to Muscongus Bay and Johns Bay, in the town of Bristol and is certainly worth the trip to this scenic area.
About Inn by the Sea:
An idyllic oceanfront escape, located on a mile of unspoiled sand beach, just 7 miles from Portland, Inn by the Sea is Maine's premier beach destination offering elegant hospitality in 62 upscale rooms and suites, with full- service SPA, cardio room, heated pool and captivating cuisine served in ocean view Sea Glass restaurant. Children and dogs are warmly welcomed to this Preferred LVX® member and Virtuoso® property.
FMI and images: Rauni Kew, PR & Green Program Manager | Inn by the Sea | 40 Bowery Beach Road | Cape Elizabeth | Maine, 04107. firstname.lastname@example.org | M: 207.602.8500 |www.innbythesea.com | 207.799.3134. Instagram @innbythesea.maine