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Portland Maine Lighthouse

Fast Facts
Location: Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Maine in US
Significance: Picturesque and Hitoric Lighthouse in Maine
How to Reach: The Portland Head Lighthouse itself is closed for the public. However, you can access the keeper's museum. Take Route 77 South from South Portland. Take left on Broadway, and then turn right on Cottage Road. From South, take Route 1 north to Oak Hill in Scarborough. Then go right on Route 207, and then turn left for Route 77 North to Cape Elizabeth. Turn right again and you will find yourself in the Fort William Park, where the lighthouse is located.
Nearest Airport: Portland International Airpor
Standing regally at the mouth of the Port Elizabeth in Maine, the majestic Portland Head lighthouse is a witness to New England's long and eventful past. Apart from being one of the most striking architectures of the entire New England era, the Portland Head Lighthouse has a heritage that goes back to a period when the US was still largely a European colony. It wears the marks of the many renovations and changes like trophies all over its scarred body, and still raises its head high in the clouds: the clouds that inspired Longfellow to proclaim — 'A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day'.


The history of Portland Head goes back to the colonial times. Despite being one of the America's busiest ports in the 1780s, Maine had no lighthouse of its own, although the need for one was felt for a long time. The death of two laborers in 1787 somehow prompted the authority into action. Money was collected by the local merchants and tradesman and the construction of the pillar started immediately, only to be stopped years later due to shortage of funds. Construction resumed again with George Washington becoming the President in 1789. The construction of the tower was finally finished in 1791.

Finally, the 72 feet long tower came into existence, and the first light was lit on January 1791. However, in 1813, the tower was shortened by 25 feet, only to be added again to the Portland Head tower in 1861. Presently the tower stands at a monumental eighty feet. A new Fresnel lens was added to the tower in 1850.

Things to Do

The Portland Head Lighthouse is one of the most magnificent sights of the New England region. However, entry to the tower itself is restricted. However, from the museum area you can see the lighthouse flash its white light in every four seconds and also emit a fog flash every 15 seconds.

Visitors are allowed to visit the museum that is maintained by the keeper, where you can go through a large number of historical documents and artifacts related to the tower. A memorabilia shop that is located in the Tower complex allows you to buy lots of tower memorabilia and merchandise, including photographs.

You can also visit the Fort Williams Park. Other buildings that are still standing include the 1891 keeper's house, the fog signal building that was reconstructed in 1975 and the oil house garage created in 1891. There is a beautiful artists corner where you can buy great artistic representations of the Tower. You can also buy one of the wonderful Portland Head Lighthouse postcards.

Portland Head Cruises

Portland Head is best experienced through one of the many dedicated cruises that can be availed from the Casco Bay region. Some of the most popular Portland Bay cruises are the North Atlantic Maritime Services, the Lucky Catch Lobstering, the Bay View Cruises and the Ophelia's Odyssey. Some of them, like the Lucky Catch Lobstering Cruise are themed, where you get to spend your days like a traditional lobster man of Maine. These cruises are also the best ways to see the light of the Portland Head. The mystic of the region is best experienced when you are out there in the waters.

Accommodation and Dining

A large number of hotels are available in Portland that cater to the needs of travelers with all ranges of budget. While there are luxurious three-star hotels in Portland like the Hilton Garden Inn, Embassy Suites and Holiday Inns, there are also a large number of two-star hotels. Some of the popular two-star hotels are La Quinta Inn and Suites Portland and Howard Johnson Plaza. Most of these hotels have dining areas that serve excellent local delicacies. You can also grab a meal at one of the many Portland restaurants.

Related Links : This is a wonderful and comprehensive video on the Portland Head Lighthouse, one of the greatest attractions of the New England region in the US. Check it out!


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