Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA. Photo taken October 2008
Camera: Canon EOS 5D; Lens: Canon EF-24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM
f/11.0 @ 1/250 sec; ISO 800; Focal length: 45mm
Construction of the Portland Head Light began in 1787 at the directive of George Washington, and was completed on January 10, 1791. Whale oil lamps were originally used for illumination.
In 1787, while Maine was still part of the state of Massachusetts, George Washington engaged two masons from the town of Portland, Jonathan Bryant and John Nichols, and instructed them to take charge of the construction of a lighthouse on Portland Head. Washington reminded them that the colonial government was poor and that the materials used to build the lighthouse should be taken from the fields and shores. They could be handled nicely when hauled by oxen on a drag, he said. The original plans called for the tower to be 58 feet tall. When the mason completed this task they climbed to the top of the tower and realized that it would not be visible beyond the headlands to the south, so it was raised approximately 20 feet.
Washington gave the masons four years to build the tower. While it was under construction, the federal government was formed (in 1789) and it looked for a while as though the lighthouse would not be finished. The first congress made an appropriation and authorized Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, to inform the mechanics that they could go on with the completion of the tower. The tower was completed during 1790 and first lit January 10, 1791.
The station has changed little except for the rebuilding of the whistle house in 1975 due to it being badly damaged in a storm. Today, Portland Head Light stands 80 feet above ground and 101 feet above water, its white conical tower being connected with a dwelling. The 200,000 candlepower, DCB 224 airport style aerobeacon is visible from 24 miles away. The grounds, and keeper’s house are owned by the town of Cape Elizabeth, while the beacon, and fog signal are owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard as a current aid to navigation. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Portland Head light (sic) on April 24, 1973, reference number 73000121. (Source: Wikipedia)