Although we’d seen Portland Head Light once before, we looked forward to visiting what we think of as the granddaddy of lighthouses along the Maine coast. Of course, that’s not accurate — just our impression. After purchasing a book called The Islandport Guide to Lighthouses in Maine by Ted Panayotoff (sold in the Portland Museum of Art gift shop), we read accounts of 64 lighthouses and found that most aren’t visible from shore. So, to us, Portland Head is not only stately, but, with its commanding presence and height, is also the grandest in Acadia.
Just so you’ll know:
- Location: in Fort Williams State Park on Shore Road just a couple of miles from Portland
- Completed: 1790
- First lighthouse keeper: Joseph Greenleaf, appointed by President George Washington
- Tower: about 80 feet tall
- Automation: 1989 — the end of an era when the last of the third generation Strout lighthouse keepers who had served for 59 years left the lighthouse
- Museum: The town of Cape Elizabeth leased light station from Coast Guard and opened a museum in the keeper’s quarters in 1990.
- Open — grounds and museum are open in season; lighthouse is accessible only for Maine Open Lighthouse Day in September
The simple, elegant tower is appealing to all . . .
as are the green signature color and red roofs on the museum.
And the view from the side is the best introduction you’ll get of the rocky Maine coast.
Definitely worth a visit: Portland Head Light.