Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father’s Day on the Coast of Maine

Today is one of those days that used to occur about three times a year when we lived in Chicago and, invariably, two of those days we were at work.  It is sunny and about 75F with light winds from the east.  A perfect day to take a drive in the country. We headed south toward Cape Elizabeth and the famous Portland Head Lighthouse.
Portland light house 026
I copied this information about the lighthouse from the web:
The city of Portland took its name from the headland where the lighthouse now stands, but Portland Head is now actually within the present boundaries of the town of Cape Elizabeth. Portland, which was known as Falmouth until 1786, was America’s sixth busiest port by the 1790s. There were no lighthouses on the coast of Maine when 74 merchants petitioned the Massachusetts government (Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time) in 1784 for a light at Portland Head, on the northeast coast of Cape Elizabeth, to mark the entrance to Portland Harbor. The deaths of two people in a 1787 shipwreck at Bangs (now Cushing) Island, near Portland Head, led to the appropriation of $750 for a lighthouse, and construction began.
The project was delayed by insufficient funds, and construction didn't progress until 1790 when Congress appropriated an additional $1,500, after the nation's lighthouses had been ceded to the federal government.
The stone lighthouse was built by local masons Jonathan Bryant and John Nichols. The original plan was for a 58-foot tower, but when it was realized that the light would be blocked from the south it was decided to make the tower 72 feet in height instead. Bryant resigned over the change, and Nichols finished the lighthouse in January 1791.
President George Washington approved the appointment of Capt. Joseph Greenleaf, a veteran of the American Revolution, as first keeper. The light went into service on January 10, 1791, with whale oil lamps showing a fixed white light. At first, Greenleaf received no salary as keeper; his payment was the right to fish and farm and to live in the keeper’s house. As early as November 1791, Greenleaf wrote that he couldn’t afford to remain keeper without financial compensation. In a June 1792 letter, he complained of many hardships. During the previous winter, he wrote, the ice on the lantern glass was often so thick that he had to melt it off. In 1793, Greenleaf was granted an annual salary of $160.
(Thank you
Portland light house 017
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (remember him from high school English) was fond of the lighthouse as you can see in the above photo.

But even with the lighthouse there were still shipwrecks.
Portland light house 011

Here is another view of the lighthouse for which it is claimed to be the most photographed lighthouse in the world.

Portland light house 012
The famous rock-ribbed coast of Maine.
After our trip to Cape Elizabeth we decided to visit The Lobster Shack, which was highly recommended to us.  We even found a parking place less than a block from the ocean front eatery, but a line out the door of about 50 people made us decide to come back on a week day.
Portland light house 035
Were gonna end the day with a visit to a local ice cream emporium for something special.
Stay tuned.


  1. Looks like a grand day with perfect weather. I like the pic of the lighthouse and can see why it is the most photographed.
    Hope the ice cream hit the spot at the end of the day.
    Take care and enjoy!

  2. I don't think I could enjoy ice cream as much as some fresh lobster! :)

  3. Great pictures and tour. Since we are planning on heading there soon, would be interested in what campgrounds you are using.

  4. We are at Wild Duck Campground in Scarborough, Maine. It is small so don't wait too long to make a reservation.