NRHP: Portland Head Light


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

Portland Head Light, aka the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse was built at the direction of George Washington and completed in 1791. It is the oldest lighthouse in present-day Maine, though Maine was still a part of Massachusetts at the time of construction. It was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1973.


Today the lighthouse is automated and is operated by the Coast Guard, while the keeper’s house and surrounding Fort Williams Park are maintained and preserved by the town of Cape Elizabeth, just south of Portland.


We parked by the Ship Cove beach area and walked the Cliff Trail towards the lighthouse.


There are places along this trail where you can clamber down rough paths and walk out onto rocks for a ‘better’ view of the light (trust me, there are no bad views.) This doesn’t seem especially safe…the ocean can be unpredictable and wash you right out to sea if you’re not careful.

That is my husband, risking the rocks, to take a picture of me taking a picture of him…because that’s how we roll…

We noticed another lighthouse out in Casco Bay. This is the Ram Island Ledge Light. It looks like a ruin, but it is solar-powered and apparently still works.


We arrived at the light and toured the museum inside the Keeper’s House. You cannot go up in the tower.


On the other side of the lighthouse, some rocks are painted as a memorial to the shipwreck of the Annie McGuire in 1886. The light keeper rescued the crew, providing them with the means to climb to shore. No one knows why the ship crashed into the rocks as the signal was quite visible.


We then walked a path through the park, past some ruins of the fort batteries and back to the beach where we dipped our feet in the icy water and took a few photos of Battery Keyes, built as part of Fort Williams in 1906. The fort remained in use until 1962.



You can see my other Portland posts by clicking: Portland Observatory Tower

Location: 12 Captain Strout Cir, Cape Elizabeth, ME 

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 4/24/1973

Date of my visit: 8/17/2015


12 thoughts on “NRHP: Portland Head Light

  1. Pingback: Portland Casco Bay National Estuary – National Parks USA

  2. Pingback: Portland: Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and Museum – National Parks USA

Leave a Reply