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Name: Portland Head Light  

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Nearest Town or City:
Cape Elizabeth, Maine, United States

Location: Entrance to Portland Harbor, Casco Bay.

Click to enlarge: Photo   
Photo: Jeremy D'Entremont

Managing Organization:
The Museum at Portland Head Light

Telephone: 207-799-2661


Contact Address Information:
1000 Shore Road
Cape Elizabeth
Maine, 04107, United States

Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in Maine, the first to be completed by the U.S. government, and one of the most photographed anywhere.

Tower Height: 80

Height of Focal Plane: 101

Characteristic and Range: White flash every 4 seconds.

Description of Tower: Conical white rubblestone tower with brick lining, cast iron black lantern.

This light is operational

Other Buildings?
1891 two story duplex wood frame keeper's house, 1975 replica of 1880 brick fog signal building, oil house, garage.

Date Established: 1791

Date Present Tower Built: 1791

Date Automated: 1989

Optics: 1813: System of lamps and reflectors; 1850: New lamps and reflectors; 1855: Fourth order Fresnel lens; 1864: Second order Fresnel lens; 1883: Fourth order Fresnel lens; 1885: Second order Fresnel lens; 1958: aerobeacons; 1991: DCB-224.

Fog Signal: 1855: 1,500 pound fog bell; 1870: 2,000 pound bell and striking mechanism in pyramidal bell tower; 1887: Fog trumpet operated by caloric engine; later Daboll trumpet powered by diesel engine; now automated fog horn with one blast every 15 seconds.

Current Use: Active aid to navigation, museum.

Open To Public? Grounds and museum only.

The Museum at Portland Head features interpretive displays on the lighthouse's history. A portion of a second order Fresnel lens, removed from the tower in 1958, is on display. The museum is open daily from Memorial Day to the Friday following Columbus Day. From mid-April to Memorial Day and from Columbus Day to just before Christmas the museum is open weekends only. The hours are 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children 6-18. For more information call (207) 799-2661. Fort Williams Park, which surrounds the light station, is open year round from sunrise to sunset. There is no admission fees. The lighthouse can be seen and photographed from many points in the park.

From Route 295 in Portland, take ME 77 to South Portland. Go left on Broadway, then right on Cottage Road. Cottage Road becomes Shore Road at the Cape Elizabeth town line. Portland Head Light is in Fort Williams Park, 1000 Shore Road. From the south, take US Route 1 north to Oak Hill in Scarborough. Go right on ME 207, then left on ME 77 north to Cape Elizabeth. Turn right at a blinking light at Shore Road and follow to Fort Williams Park. Mainely Tours of Portland offers a guided tour in a mini-coach bus that includes admission to the Museum at Portland Head Light; call (207) 774-0808 for information. Bay View Cruises in Portland has a Casco Bay/Portland Head Light/Seal Watch Cruise from mid-June to September, 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon. Call (207) 761-0496 for details. Lucky Catch Lobstering has a daily 10:30 a.m. Portland Head Light cruise from Commercial Street in Portland. Call (207) 233-2026 or email for more information. It can also be seen from some of the cruises offered by Casco Bay Lines -- call (207) 774-7871 or see

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Keepers: Joseph K. Greenleaf (1791-1796); David Duncan (1796); Barzillai Delano (1796-1820); Joshua Freeman (1820-1840); Richard Lee (1840-1849); John F. Watts (1849-1853); John W. Coolidge (1853-1854); James S. Williams (1854); James Delano (1854-1861); Elder M. Jordan (1861-1869); Joshua F. Strout (1869-1904); Joseph W. Strout (1904-1928); John W. Cameron (1928-1929); Frank. O. Hilt (1929-1944); Robert Thayer Sterling, (assistant 1928-1944, principal keeper 1944-1946); William L. Lockhart (Coast Guard 1946-1950); William T. Burns (Coast Guard, 1950-1952); Earle E. Benson (Coast Guard, 1952-?); Robert Allen (Coast Guard, c. 1972); Kenneth A. Perry (Coast Guard, ?)

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