Lighthouse 1: Portland Head Light

I only had a handful of things I really really wanted to do or see in Maine and at the top of the list was: Go to a Lighthouse. Obviously there are hundreds of places in the country that you can see lighthouses—honestly I could easily go out on Long Island for a weekend and be slapped in the face by several, but Maine is known for it’s lighthouses. It’s the Lighthouse State afterall. This isn’t surprising considering it has about 5,000 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. People take vacations just to drive along the coast of Maine and visit lighthouses. We went to two. This is the story of the first we visited:

Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in Maine and one of the oldest in the country. Up close it seems smaller than you imagine. The day we went it drizzled. But, that didn’t hold back the numerous school groups and tourists.

The views from the lighthouse are spectacular, and the rock formations along the cliffs are otherworldly. You can see why they’ve needed a lighthouse here since the 1700s. A big storm and tumultuous waves would knock anyone into the rocks and devastate even the strongest ship. And there have been shipwrecks. A sign is painted along the rocks about a shipwreck from the late 1800s.

The lighthouse isn’t the only thing here. It sits nestled into Fort Williams Park, an old military post that was decommissioned in the 1960s. There are still some military buildings that you can wander to along the steep trails at the waters edge. Not much remains from the fort, but you can climb through some of the old buildings and the short hike gives you a chance to get more breathtaking views of Portland Head Light and Casco Bay.  And, if you’re daring (we were not) you can climb onto and down the rocks toward the water and leave your mark by stacking small rocks on the cliffs.

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