“USA 🇺🇸 ~Maine Lighthouses, 2 Gypsies, and Lobster”
From around Bar Harbor up North, to around Portland down South, we visited many of the Lighthouses Maine has to offer (on the East Coast; Atlantic Ocean).Though the majority of these beauties are found along the New England Seaboard, getting to each one involves a lot of time, miles, tanks of fuel, some planning, and sometimes fees for parking, entering, and boating.The lighthouses are found on the many jagged and rocky shores of the craggy coastline, for obvious reasons.They were originally built with a guiding light at their top, to assist Captains, sailors and their ships in the fog and during storms, to find their way through the rugged shores, and into the safety of the harbors.
By DWS ⬇️
“We get up early for lighthouse visits, and on this latest morning, we followed Highway 1 “downeast,” as they say in Maine, and we enjoy the dazzling display of ever changing leaves, with their splashes of yellow, red and orange. In the next few weeks, with dropping temperatures, will come the fall of trillions of leaves.
The architecture of homes we continually drive by, are classic East Coast styles; mostly white houses, with clapboard exterior walls. Lakes and craggy bays, with drastic tidal changes make rapids at bridge crossings. With gradual ocean floor sloping, bays have black clay exposed, during low tide.
The lighthouses have many different styles of towers and attached homes. The homes belong to private citizens in some cases, but the automatic beacons of the lighthouses are operated by a coastal authority.
One lighthouse was a mile walk across a crooked granite jetty to reach it. Eyes must watch every step across giant flat granite stones. The seemingly, never ending hike, ended at the Light Keepers house of years gone by, as for now, it sits empty.
Our “dogs were barking” and legs strained from the un-even two-mile walk. It was good exercise for us.
The next lighthouse was another hike along the coast, but not quite as long as the one before, passing through wooded coastline, this time.
The most dramatic coastline and lighthouse had spectacular bedrock exposed, revealing linear formations that lead to a peninsula, jetting out to the sea, with a harbor on one side, with lobster boats parading around in it.
All the lighthouses had huge fog bells that used to ring to give a better position of the ragged coast for the old light beacons were not always bright enough in those early days.
Time seemed to fluctuate like an hourglass tied to the pedal of a bicycle. The day went too fast, st same time, feeling worn out, but we ended it with a great dinner feast of Lobster, Crab Rolls, and Fish Tacos. Even with a bib on, I still got stains on my new sweatshirt, and pants.
Venus could be seen rising in the sky as the dusk grew ever darker.
As we entered our camping spot that evening, a lone Raven flew high by the light of the moon.”
While we began our drive on the main state highways, the lighthouse points are found by turning off highways, and driving to each location; sometimes 2o miles in. This is where it takes the time, because after exploring these amazing heritage sites, reached by Land, Ferry, or Mail Boats, one needs to always return on the same pathway in, to get back to land, and the roadway and/or state highway, to continue driving further (in our case; South) to the next lighthouse. Because we find the driving very beautiful, and we are retired, it was no issue for us.
Many of the lighthouses also require a small to medium hike to reach them, too. One of the lighthouses we went to required a two-mile round trip hike out into the Sea, across a jetty. Another lighthouse visit (or view, really) was by a “Mail Boat,” set up to include passengers. That was a $54 day to include parking at the harbor, as some Lighthouses are on islands.
Thankfully, most of the historical sites are free. If not, the state charged us $6 at Pemaquin.
In some cases, lighthouses in Maine are privately owned, so viewing from a distance is required, unless you engage in a company who tours private lighthouses for a fee.
On our first full-day, self-tour, after getting “Tiny” set-up in the campground near Portland; coming down from Bar Harbor, we spent 10 hours on the road, enjoying lighthouse adventures and the old port towns. It’s best to get an early start and end your day at Booth Bay and enjoy fresh Lobster 🦞 and sunset from the Wharf!
You will have earned that delicacy, with melted butter after all!
Knowing it would be a big day, we left our campground (in Scarborough), and drove as far as we needed to up the interstate; North, to begin our adventuring at the next Lighthouse, since leaving Bar Harbor. (RV’s are not allowed at lighthouse parking most of the time). By the end of daylight, on this day, we would make it to Bath, Maine, but unfortunately, as the days are getting shorter, it got too dark to explore this old village. From there, it would be 45 minutes longer to get back to the campground.
I mention the time involved, not to discourage anybody from exploring the lighthouses, as we have, but just know, there is a reason most travelers do not reach every single lighthouse in Maine, unless you have weeks upon weeks to do just that! So, pick some favorites and go!
In addition, Lighthouse photography, in my opinion, is best with sunny blue skies and glistening seas, in their backdrop, but since we are in New England to enjoy the fall foliage, and this takes autumn weather, we have experienced some wet and grey days.
That being said, aside from the photography aspect, Lighthouse visits are wonderful no matter the weather. In fact, being born and raised in Oregon, (on the West Coast; Pacific Ocean) and having a January birthday, a good stormy weekend at the beach with Clam Chowder, fresh Dungeness Crab, and a fire in the fireplace has always been a favorite thing for me.
With 65 historical lighthouses still standing and spread out along 5,000 miles of coastline, inlets and islands, Maine is commonly referred to as The Lighthouse State. As afore mentioned, these lighthouses have acted as “beacons of light” for sailors, over hundreds of years; guiding them and fishermen, safely in to harbors, along the rocky Maine coastline.
Today, lighthouses are an important part of Maine’s history and are popular tourist attractions.
I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed each visits! Note: we did not go inside the lighthouses for a few reasons:
1. We have seen many insides of lighthouses, their museums, and various light fixtures in the past.
2. Didn’t want to wait in the lines.
If you have not been inside the lighthouses to see the Beacon Lights, here are a few photos of what some look like. They are quite impressive: ⬇️
(not my inside photos)
The Bass Harbor Lighthouse Station was constructed in 1858 from funds appropriated by Congress. ⬇️
The site was considered significant from 1858 to 1948 for its mid-19th Century design and construction, and for its association with Maine’s critical reliance on maritime transportation and aids that made that transportation possible.
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Just last year, The Bass Harbor Head Light Station is now one of three light stations in Acadia National Park joining the Baker Island and Bear Island lights.
Dice (or Dyce) Lighthouse ⬇️
As shipbuilding and lumber traffic on the Penobscot River flourished, Congress appropriated $5,000 for a light station in May 1828.
The site chosen was Dice Head, the southernmost point of the Castine Peninsula.
The spot is on land, once owned by a family named Dyce. Although both spellings have often been used, the “Dice” spelling has predominated.
A conical rubbles stone tower; 42 feet tall from its base to the focal plane, and an adjacent one-and-one-half-story rubble stone dwelling were soon built, and a newspaper notice on November 5, 1828, announced that the light would go into service that evening.
An octagonal wrought-iron lantern held 10 lamps and 14-inch reflectors, showing a fixed white light, 129 feet above mean high water
The first keeper was Jacob Shelburne, a former sea captain. The Castine Historical Society has preserved a poem he wrote:
“I always rise before the sun And up the winding stairs I run
Put out the light, when that is done
Another day is just begun So pass my time from day to day
While months and years do roll away
And when the evening doth return
Behold the lamps begin to burn
Both bright and clear
To show the vessels how to steer
And if they steer well to the right
They’ll clear the shoal above the light
The light should be on the other side
Where the channel is both deep and wide
But some Castine men or ginus [genius] bright said we will petition for a light.
They owned the Head, the rocks and land
Is a fact we understand
That was the reason why they said
It shall be built on Dice’s Head”
The Isle Au Haut Island Lighthouse ⬇️
While still staying in Bar Harbor, there are a few ways to get to Isle Au Haut, but all ways are by water. We chose the Mail Boat. It actually picks up mail!
This would be a full day from dawn to dark, just to see one lighthouse.
We had hoped for much better weather for photos, but after we were under way, it rained the whole time.
For added excitement, nobody needed, at one of the stops; (Duck Island) a dog slipped and fell into the water, as it was boarding the boat. The poor thing (a Whippet) sunk like a rock, and was in the narrow opening between the dock and boat. (I had to cover my eyes, hoping it would not be crushed by the rocking of the boat, against a piling). Quick action by a young man; down on his belly in a flash, on the dock, reached for the dog, still on the leash (choking) and grabbed its fur and pulled it back up from the brink, totally saving it’s life!
Whew! It was a long, cold ride for that pooch.
Didn’t know we had to mask up for the whole trip, till after we bought our tickets and paid for parking: $54. It was pouring rain, so we stayed inside sharing the heater with the wet dog.
Mail from the island gets craned onto the boat deck by the Captain.
In 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain gave Isle au Haut (High Island) its name, due to its being the highest island in Penobscot Bay.
Isle au Haut is roughly six miles long by three miles wide, at its highest point, Mount Champlain, has an elevation of 540 feet.
This old lighthouse is so amazing with interesting history, and we were luckily seated next to a couple on the boat, who once owned the Keepers House, which is now an Inn. (Currently closed).
In addition, the husband built the door on the old light, after the recent restoration of the light, itself. (from original blueprints).
The Light is not owned by the owners of the Inn, as it belongs to the people of Maine, who take great pride in their lighthouse heritage, but the two three structures (boat house included) share the same property.
⬆️ From inside the Lightkeeper’s House
Not my photo
In 1837, a petition had called for a lighthouse on Isle au Haut, noting maritime dangers: “Many vessels have been wrecked on this Island and numerous lives have been lost; one instance, the entire crew of a ship and in another that of a schooner.” And although the need for a lighthouse on the island was studied in 1855, the decision was then made to locate it on Spoon Island instead.
Credit for the 1906 appropriation for the light was given to Maine Congressman Edwin C. Burleigh in his promotional booklet to gain support for the June 17, 1912 Republican primary for State Senate. He won the election for a six-year term, but died in Maine three years later.
Locals say that eight-year-old Esther Holbrook, daughter of Francis Elmer Holbrook, the first keeper, was given the honor of first lighting the tower’s fifth-order Fresnel lens. This supposedly occurred on Christmas Eve 1907, but construction wasn’t completed until December 30, and another source says the light was first lit on New Year’s Day 1908. The tower was built a bit offshore and reached via a wooden walkway. Charles E. Robinson, who had originally sold the land for the Light, was able, with the assistance of Maine’s Senator Margaret Chase Smith, to buy back the keeper’s house and land – excluding the tower, which remained federal government property.
For the next three generations, over fifty years, the keeper’s house welcomed members of the Robinson family.
Linda Greenlaw, a great-granddaughter of Charles Robinson, wrote about her summers there in her book; The Lobster Chronicles. Which, by the way, I’ve read all her books. They are all great reads!
The Curtis Island Light ⬇️
was originally Negro Island Light, a lighthouse marking the approach to the harbor of Camden, Maine.
It is located on Curtis Island, which shelters the harbor from ocean storms. It was first established in 1835, and the present structure was built in 1896.
The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse ⬇️
is located at the end of a 7/8-mile long breakwater.
There’s a Lighthouse out there? Really? 😂
There is a Lighthouse!
Built in 1902, at a Towering height of 25 feet, this white Light on a square tower, sits on corner of fog-signal house, on granite pier.
The lighthouse shows a flashing white light every 5 seconds, from a focal plane of 39 feet above sea level that is visible 17 nautical miles.
The light station is equipped with a fog horn that sounds one blast every 15 seconds.
This Light became fully automated by 1965, and remains an active aid to the United States Coastguard. The lighthouse is owned by the City of Rockland and leased to the American Lighthouse Foundation.
The Owl’s Head Light ⬇️
is also an active aid to navigation, located at the entrance of Rockland Harbor on western Penobscot Bay in the town of Owls Head, Knox County, Maine.
The lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and licensed to the American Lighthouse Foundation.
Owls Head Lighthouse sits majestically atop an 80-foot bluff, overlooking Penobscot Bay, near the entrance to Rockland Harbor along Midcoast Maine.
Once atop the lighthouse, visitors have the chance to admire the gorgeous fourth order Fresnel lens that dates back to 1856
The Marshall Point Lighthouse ⬇️
was named after Samuel Marshall who was the land owner who sold the property to the government, as early as 1831. The present structure came a little more recent, having been constructed in 1858. We found it one of the more picturesque light stations along the Maine coast, and with its proximity to Rockland and other coastal towns that draw lots of summer residents, it attracts many visitors on day trips to Port Clyde.
The tower rests on a rock ledge right at the water’s edge. One can notice on the previous photograph that it is composed of multiple layers. Granite blocks compose the first twelve feet, with the next twelve feet of brick. Cast iron adorns the top portion, enclosing a small lantern room. This places the lantern at a focal plane of about thirty feet above the waterline.
Sorry ladies, he’s all mine! 😝
The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse ⬇️
So far, this was my favorite Maine Lighthouses. And, it is the only place in the United States where you can tour Maine’s first land-based lighthouse opened to the public, get married, spend your honeymoon, and pay for it all using the first U.S. currency ever to bear the image of a lighthouse – Maine’s official quarter, featuring Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.
This picturesque lighthouse has attracted many, including Edward Hopper who captured its image in his 1929 watercolor, “Pemaquid Light.” Today, Pemaquid Point, with its colorful rocky shoreline, is one of New England’s most-visited and photographed lighthouses, drawing over 100,000 visitors annually.
After the region had been settled for over two centuries, an act, dated May 18, 1826, finally provided $4,000 for the construction of a rubble stone lighthouse and a twenty by thirty-four-foot keeper’s house, with an attached ten by twelve-foot kitchen at Pemaquid Point.
The light station’s plot was purchased for ninety dollars from Samuel and Sarah Martin; descendants of survivors of the Angel Gabriel shipwreck.
Jeremiah Berry of Thomaston built the structures, which ended up costing $3,503, and Pemaquid’s fixed white light went into service on November 29, 1827.
The Portland Head Light ⬇️
is situated along the shores of Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth.
Portland Head Light sits at the entrance of the shipping channel into Casco Bay.
A popular destination for those touring the area’s historic lighthouses or those simply looking for a quintessential coastal scene on their visit to Maine, the Lighthouse, a commission of George Washington, is Maine’s oldest, dating to 1791!
Portland Head Light is a prized landmark for its historical significance, but also for the adjacent 90-acre park that is its home, with stunning ocean views, hiking and walking paths dotted with viewing lenses, and other historic structures. The Museum at Portland Head, is also here, contained within the former Keepers’ Quarters, where lighthouse lenses, interpretative displays and a seasonal gift shop are located.
The lighthouse, museum, and Fort Williams Park itself makes an enjoyable family outing spot with its many opportunities for exploring.
Really, for my safety? But, just to be safe, I followed the rules and didn’t touch the bell.
The Ram Island Ledge Light Station ⬇️
is a jagged finger of rock one-quarter mile long, marking the northern entrance into Portland’s outer harbor. The ledge runs southwest off nearby Ram Island, and has long been one of the most feared spots by local mariners, despite being just over a mile from Portland Head Lighthouse.
The first navigational aid marking the site was an iron spindle placed at the southern edge of the ledge in 1855, although it was only of practical use during daylight. In 1873, a fifty-foot-tall wooden tripod replaced the spindle. This was a definite improvement, but the force of the open ocean frequently assaulted the exposed structure, and it was washed away at least three times.
On the evening of February 24, 1900, the 440-foot steamer Californian left Portland just before midnight in a brisk southeast wind with splatters of rain. Less than an hour later, not long after the pilot had left, the Liverpool-bound vessel was hard aground on Ram Island Ledge. Captain John France had let his vessel drift slightly off course, and before he discovered his error, the ship hit the reef straight on, scraping forward and coming to rest in a small hollow in the reef. Luckily all passengers were rescued, and the ship’s cargo was also unloaded. The ship remained stranded on the reef for six weeks before it was finally pulled free. The hull was badly damaged, but it was patched up, and after repairs in Boston, the steamer returned to service.
This high-profile near-disaster focused public attention on the hazard posed by the reef. The next year, the inspector and engineer of the First Lighthouse District, after noting the increase in the grain trade from approximately one million bushels in 1895-1896 to over fourteen million bushels in 1900-1901, included the following paragraphs in a report to the Lighthouse Board recommending an additional navigational aid to assist vessels calling at Portland. A Congressional act of June 28, 1902, authorized the construction of a lighthouse and fog signal on Ram Island Ledge at a total cost of $166,000 and appropriated an initial $83,000 for the project. Work was delayed until the following spring, as plans had to be prepared and accessing the rocks that were under water two-thirds of the time would have been almost impossible during the winter. In the meantime, more ships were lost on the reef. On September 22, 1902, the British three-masted schooner Glenrosa wedged itself on the rocks after its captain was misled by the sound of the foghorn at Portland Head Light into thinking his ship was steering down the middle of the channel. The crew was able to stay aboard for the night and row to shore at daybreak, but the ship was a total loss. Less than three months later, the schooner Cora & Lillian suffered a similar fate.
As seen from Portland Head Light ⬇️
Two Lights Lighthouse ⬇️
Two Lights Park’s name originates from the twin lighthouses located nearby, outside the park at the end of Two Lights Road. Built in 1828, they were the first twin lighthouses on the coast of Maine, and while not open to the public, the eastern light is active and visible at sea.
Spring Point Head Light ⬇️
A walk along the Spring Point Shoreway includes a beautiful, sandy Maine beach, historic Fort Preble, built in 1808, the iconic Spring Point Lighthouse, and outstanding views of Portland Harbor from a variety of perspectives.
Features of the trail include Fort Preble, which was built in 1808 and used during the War of 1812 and held Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.
The nearby Spring Point Head Light was built in 1867 while the accompanying granite breakwater was added in 1951, and currently provides a popular walk with commanding views of Portland Harbor and Casco Bay.
The granite stones of the breakwater provide more uneven walking and shouldn’t be done in windy or stormy weather.
Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse
The “Nubble” is a small, rocky island a short distance off the eastern point of Cape Neddick, about two miles north of the entrance to the York River and York Harbor. In 1602, explorer Bartholomew Gosnold met with local Indians on the island and dubbed it “Savage Rock.”
The placement of a lighthouse on the Nubble had been recommended by many local mariners since 1807. An 1837 proposal was rejected on the grounds that there were already enough lights in the vicinity. Even after the wreck of the bark Isidore in 1842, north of the Nubble near Bald Head Cliff, it still took nearly four more decades before the lighthouse was established. The Isidore, according to legend, still reappears as a ghost ship with a phantom crew.
Congress appropriated $15,000 for the building of a lighthouse on the Nubble in 1876.
The 41-foot cast-iron tower, lined with brick, was first illuminated on July 1, 1879.
Eats near the lighthouse
Such a fun read on the “Ranking” of all 65 Maine Lighthouses, if you are so inspired: ⬇️
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Archive Blog Posts of Our Country Visits
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~From Pennsylvania to Maryland to Washington DC”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Amish and Camping in Bird In Hand, Pennsylvania”
- Old Order Amish Tour in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Mystic, Connecticut ~The Amazing Historic Shipbuilding Village”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~From Massachusetts Through Rhode Island and Connecticut ~ More Lobster, Trains, and Historic Lighthouses”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~From Maine Through Massachusetts ~Quaint and Charming!”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Maine Old Port of Portland Boat Tour ~Fabulous!”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Maine Scenic Views From Bar Harbor to Portland”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Maine Lighthouses, 2 Gypsies, and Lobster”
- “One Year Hair Anniversary! ~Daryl’s Hair Journey ~Part VI of VI”
Hello and Welcome to our Travel Blog Website, We are into our fourth year of our full-time Gypsy Lifestyle; buying one-way tickets to circumvent the globe. We enjoy writing about our experiences and taking photos of our adventuring along the… Read More