A few months ago we touched upon lobstering and mentioned its importance to Maine both historically and economically. So it was only a matter of time before discussion of one of Maine’s other most iconic images, lighthouses, was brought up. The state has long been famous for its rocky coast and lighthouses were a necessity for safely guiding mariners off its shores. A total of 70 lighthouses once lit up the Maine coast, and of those, 57 are still active.
The oldest lighthouse is Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth. Originally commissioned by George Washington in 1787, it was first lit early in the year of 1791. However, for a time it appeared that the now iconic structure would not be completed. In the days of our nation’s infancy there were not always ample finances to complete construction projects. It took two separate acts of Congress and authorization by our country’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, to finally appropriate the funds for the completion of the lighthouse.
Today it is the focal point of Fort Williams Park and is the most photographed lighthouse not only in the state, but in all of North America. It’s hard to imagine that such an important and historical structure was almost never completed.
Fun Fact: The only state with more lighthouses than Maine is Michigan!