The picturesque Portland Head Light is the most famous landmark in Maine. When construction on the lighthouse began, in 1787, the District of Maine was still a part of Massachusetts, and it wasn’t until George Washington became the nation’s first president in 1789 that Congress granted the money to finish building it. Then, for almost 200 years, a succession of lonely men kept the light flashing day and night, helping sailors find their way to land.
It was here that 19th-century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned his poem, “The Lighthouse,” with the lines:
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
The lighthouse stands at an impressive 92 feet, in the midst of the 90-acre Fort Williams Park, which is open from sunrise to sunset and offers walking trails and terrific picture-taking vantage points.
The tower is not open to visitors, but there is a small museum housed in the former lighthouse keeper’s residence. There is a modest fee to enter the museum, but the lighthouse grounds and parking are free.
There are no food concessions on site, so plan accordingly.
1000 Shore Road
Cape Elizabeth, Maine 04107
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Museum at Portland Head Light is open daily from Memorial Day to October 31. From mid April to Memorial Day and from November to mid-December, the Museum is open weekends only.
Museum is $2.00 for adults, $1.00 for children ages 6-18, free for children under age 6.
General visitor parking is available.
From 295 in Portland take Route 77 south to South Portland. Go left on Broadway, then right on Cottage Road. Cottage Road becomes Shore Road at the Cape Elizabeth town line.
From the south, take Route 1 north to Oak Hill in Scarborough. Go right on Route 207, then left on Route 77 north to Cape Elizabeth. Turn right at the light on to Shore Road.
For more, visit: www.portlandheadlight.com