Recently, Sept. 12 was designated as the first Maine Open Lighthouse Day. On this day you’ll have the opportunity to go inside at least 25 Maine lighthouses from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and not only see how the keepers lived and worked in these beacons, but also in some cases climb the stairs and ladders up to the top of the lights and see the actual lenses and the amazing views from the top of the lights.

Lighthouses have played a large part in Maine’s maritime history. They have guided ships into port during storms and have warned them away from our dangerous and rocky coast line. Maine has 67 lighthouses, more than any other state, but fewer than 20 are accessible by road. A few can be reached by ferry boat, but many can only be reached by private boat or a tour boat. And many of Maine’s lighthouses are now privately owned, so make sure the lighthouse you want to visit is open to the public.

Of the 25 open on Sept. 12, many are accessible by road, including all but one of the eight highlighted on this page today. For more information on Maine’s lighthouses and on the lighthouses open on Maine Open Lighthouse Day, go to http://www.visitmaine.com/attractions/sightseeing_tours/lighthouse/lighthouse-day/

The first lighthouse to be built in Maine by the federal government was Portland Head Light in 1791. The first island lighthouse was Seguin Light, which is six miles out to sea. And in 1807 Hugh McLellan built the Portland Observatory on the highest spot in Portland. Even though it is not a lighthouse, it was actually used to send signals to ships to warn of danger or storms. It is worth the trip to visit. For more information on the observatory visit http://portlandlandmarks.org/observatory/.

For interesting history of some of Maine’s legendary lighthouses visit http://www.pbs.org/legendarylighthouses/html/mainegl.html

Portland Head Light

Route 77, 1 & 1A to Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth

This light is the most photographed lighthouse in Maine. It is also the first lighthouse constructed in Maine, even though at the time Maine was a part of Massachusetts. The keeper’s house is now a museum that is open to the public. Picnic area.


Spring Point Ledge Light

Fort Preble, South Portland

This light was originally built to help ships maneuver around the ledge in the bay; eventually the breakwater was built so it was possible to walk out to the light. It was a “stag” light as the living quarters were so small, being inside of the light, that there was only room for the two keepers to live there.

Portland Breakwater Light

Bug Light Park, South Portland

Just up the road from Spring Point Ledge Light, this small light, nicknamed “bug” light, is one of the fancier and smaller lights in Maine.

Pemaquid Point Light

Off Route 130, Bristol

This is another of Maine’s most photographed lights with its amazing rocky promontory reaching into the sea. It also has an unusual bell tower, a fisherman’s museum and the original Fresnel lens, which is still being used. There is a $2 parking fee and picnic area.

Marshall Point Light

Off Route 131, Port Clyde

This light has a long wooden “arm” or walkway to the actual light. It is another photographer’s favorite, and they have a small picnic area so you can enjoy your lunch while taking in the view.

Rockland Breakwater Light

Off Route 1 (near the Samoset Inn), Rockland

Wear good walking shoes if you want to visit this light. It is at the end of a half-mile granite breakwater. There is a small parking area, so plan accordingly. This is worth the walk, but keep in mind you could be walking two miles or more round trip from your car to the light.

Owls Head Light

Several miles off Route 73, Owls Head

This is a very picturesque light that sits on the top of a rocky promontory 100 feet above high water. There is a small rocky beach below with some picnic benches for you to enjoy.


Grindle Point Light

Islesboro

You need to take a 20-minute ride on the auto ferry from Lincolnville to the island. This is a small lighthouse that sits at the annex where the ferry puts in. You can tour the island with your car before heading back to the mainland.


Lighthouses open on Open Lighthouse Day

Downeast and Acadia region
• Bass Harbor Head Light — Mount Desert Island (1)
• Burnt Coat Harbor Light — Swan’s Island (0)
• Eagle Island Light — Deer Isle (3)
• West Quoddy Head Light — South Lubec (0)

Midcoast
• Browns Head Light — Vinalhaven(0)
• Curtis Island Light — Camden (3)
• Dice Head Light — Castine (0)
• Doubling Point (Kennebec Point) Light — Arrowsic (0)
• Fort Point Light — Stockton Springs (0)
• Goose Rocks Light — North Haven (5)
• Grindel Point Light — Islesboro (0)
• Marshall Point Light — Port Clyde (0)
• Monhegan Light — Monhegan Island (0)
• Owls Head Light — Owl’s Head (0)
• Pemaquid Point Light — Bristol (0)
• Perkins Island Light — Georgetown (3)
• Rockland Breakwater — Rockland (3)
• Seguin Island Light — Popham Beach (2)
• Squirrel Point Light — Arrowsic Island (1)

Portland & Casco Bay Region
• Portland Breakwater Lighthouse — South Portland (0)
• Portland Head Light — Cape Elizabeth (0)
• Spring Point Light — South Portland (0)

Southern coast
• Goat Island — Kennebunkport (1)
• Whaleback Light — Portsmouth Harbor (4)
• Wood Island — Saco (1)


Legend:
(0) Drive there or take a ferry ride
(1) By boat; public landing available
(2) By boat; beach landing required
(3) Boat ride will be provided
(4) By boat; difficult landing on rocks
(5) Visit not recommended

Source: State of Maine lighthouse Web site — http://www.visitmaine.com/attractions/sightseeing_tours/lighthouse/lighthouse-day/ 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: