City of Light(house)s

August 8th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Last weekend, friends we visited in Portland, Maine, took us on a quick hopping tour of lighthouses. They have them scattered about like Bostonians have doughnut shops and ice cream stores.

No ledge or shoal seemed safe enough not to build at least a tiny Pharos as a warning. Those shown and cited here have their histories and links in the Coast Guard listings.

We did swing by, walk around and tour the coast paths of the Portland Head Light. It is a classic, literally, as the first after the feds started funding lighthouses. The 80-footer was first lit in 1791 and not automated until 198 years later. It’s a stack of rocks (rubble stone with brick lining in lighthouse terminology). It is still working.

While hand lighting and then a keeper manually switching the light seems primitive now, the tiny Bug Light was far worse for a long time. The Portland Breakwater Light (nicknamed for its wee cuteness) required a transient keeper to make his way along 1,800 foot of dangerous breakwater to light or tend it from 1831 to 1877.

The Cape Elizabeth Light is scenery overlooking the entrance to Casco Bay (and the wildly popular Lobster Shack). It was one of a pair of cast iron ones in 1828. The other was dismantled about a century later.
CapeElizabethLIght1
BugTop Bug Light really is cute, while simultaneously being elegant. Only 26 feet tall, this cast iron version replaced the original wooden one.
Bug Light has six weathered Corinthian columns. While deactivated in 1942, it has operated privately since 2002. BugColumn1
SpringPointDetails The more impressive 54-foot Spring Point Ledge lighthouse has a many fancy details as well. It is on the end of a 900-foot breakwater that makes visit worthy of a lunch later.
My favorite snaps of the Portland Head Light are not of the building. Rather an imposing gull on the lower buildings stands guard and it is surrounded by rosa rugosa bushes with quarter-sized rose hips. hipred

Creative Commons note: You’re welcome to use and abuse these snaps. They are Creative Commons-Attribution. Just cite the source somewhere.


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