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Historical Materials: Flags, Lighthouses, & Navigation Aids

Historical Materials  »  Flags, Lighthouses, & Navigation Aids  »  Portland Harbor, Maine – Portland Head Light

Portland Harbor, Maine – Portland Head Light

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The Portland Head Light is located on the northeast coast of Cape Elizabeth, Maine overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and marking the entrance to Portland Harbor. The first, and current, Portland Head Light was built in 1791 after 74 merchants petitioned for a lighthouse at the entrance of the Portland Harbor. After nineteen years of use, the lighthouse was in need of repairs and, in 1810, the Portland Head Light was repaired and a new oil shed was added. In 1812,  contractor, Winslow Lewis found that the upper portion of the Portland Head Light was poorly built and in the next year Lewis shortened the 72-foot-tall tower by 25 feet and added a new lantern. Three years later, a new stone keeper's house was built by Henry Dyer of Cape Elizabeth. Later, during the 1850s, numerous improvements were made to the Portland Head Light including the addition of new fourth-order Fresnel Lens, a fog bell tower, reflectors, and lamps.

This information has been shared with the Lane project by Jeremy D'Entremont. More information can be found at his website, and The Lighthouse Handbook New England.

Related tables: Portland Harbor »

photo (historical)
Portland Head Light
National Archives
Photography courtesy of :
photo (historical)
Portland Head Light
Marshall, John A., photographer
Black-and-white film copy negative
Library of Congress
Citation: "Flags, Lighthouses, & Navigation Aids." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum.§ion=Portland+Harbor%2C+Maine+%E2%80%93+Portland+Head+Light (accessed July 23, 2024).
Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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