Portland Head Light is a historic lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The light station sits on a head of land at the entrance of the primary shipping channel into Portland Harbor, which is within Casco Bay in the Gulf of Maine. Completed in 1791, it is the oldest lighthouse in Maine. The light station is automated, and the tower, beacon, and foghorn are maintained by the United States Coast Guard, while the former lighthouse keepers’ house is a maritime museum within Fort Williams Park.
West Quoddy Head is an easterly-pointing peninsula in southeastern Lubec, overlooking Quoddy Narrows, a strait between Lubec and Campobello Island, Canada, that provides access to Passamaquoddy Bay and harbors located on the St. Croix River and other rivers which the empty into the bay. Most of the peninsula is part of Quoddy Head State Park, and the light station is located near the southern end of its eastern face.
A stone sign describes the lighthouse as the “easternmost point in the U.S.A.” It is the easternmost building in the United States (a nearby sign proclaims the “easternmost giftshop in the U.S.”), but the easternmost point is at rocks extending eastward from the shoreThe present light station includes a tower, former keeper’s quarters, service building, and oil house. The tower is circular, and is 49 feet (15 m) in height, with the beacon at 83 feet (25 m) above sea level. The light, magnified by a third-order Fresnel lens, has a range of 18 miles (29 km). The tower is built of brick, and painted in alternating horizontal red and white stripes. A small gabled entry vestibule, also brick, projects from the tower. The keeper’s house is a wood frame structure, 11⁄2 stories in height.
Without a doubt, this is my favorite lighthouse in New England.
The lighthouse was commissioned in 1827 by President John Quincy Adams and built that year. Because of poor workmanship (salt water was used in the mortar mix), the lighthouse began to crumble and was replaced in 1835. The second contract for the construction stipulated that only fresh water be used. Keeper Isaac Dunham oversaw the construction and wrote in a letter to the US Lighthouse Establishment that the agreement was upheld and the work went well.
The original light was an Argand-Lewis parabolic reflector, lit with candles and with a visibility of 2 miles (3.2 km). Augustin Fresnel invented a superior way of focusing light in the early 1850s and most lighthouses in the US were converted to the Fresnel Lens, with Pemaquid Point receiving a fourth order Fresnel