Portland Head Lighthouse at the entrance of Portland Harbor in Casco Bay was the first light station built in Maine. The lighthouse was the first in the nation to be built by the US Government. George Washington himself approved the funding and the first lighthouse keeper.
Constructed in 1791 when Maine was still part of Massachusetts and the harbor the sixth busiest port in America, the stone lighthouse has been modified and fortified numerous times since. The tower has been raised, lowered, and raised again. The now 80-foot tower is the most frequently visited and photographed lighthouse in New England.
Portland Head Lighthouse was automated in 1989, and a DCB-224 optic was installed. The light flashes white every four seconds. In addition to the lighthouse, the grounds feature an 1891 keeper’s house, 1891 oil house, 1975 reconstructed fog signal building, and a garage.
Portland Head Lighthouse is located in Fort Williams State Park in Cape Elizabeth. The site offers free parking nearby and picnic spots. While the tower is rarely open to the public, a museum in the keeper’s house is open from June through October. The tower’s old second-order Fresnel lens is just one of the items on display.