story and photos by KATIE JAKUB
My mother and I went to Maine this past summer. As part of our trip, we decided to take a driving tour of six different lighthouses in the Portland area. It took us about three hours, including some stops of our own and stumbling across some unlisted treasures.
The first two lighthouses were in Two Lights State Park, which are not really in the park as we found out. At a y-intersection in the road, one way leads to Two Lights State Park and the other is unmarked. My mother thought we should go to the left of the y. I was driving and went to the right. It turns out that Two Lights State Park does not have two lighthouses on the paid side of it. My mom thinks that this is the “Maniac Mainians” idea of a joke.
The paid side of the park houses the remains of a World War II battery bunker and a fire control tower, both of which were used to keep the shores safe from enemy fire. The fire control tower along with another tower disguised as a lighthouse used the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the firing coordinates. The coordinates were then sent to the battery where the soldiers could fire the guns and deflect enemies.
From the other side of the park, there are breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rock ledge shore. The rocks, which look like petrified wood, are actually rock that has re-crystallized by a long process of metamorphosis. During a continental shift, the rocks split and cooled in their current formation. The water from the ocean continues to erode the rock and smooth it.
The two lighthouses at Two Lights were the first twin lighthouses in Maine. Neither of these lighthouses is open to the public, but the eastern lighthouse is still in use.
The next two fully functioning lighthouses were the Portland Head Lighthouse, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world, and Ram Island Lighthouse. A rock near Portland Head says “Annie C. MacGuire Shipwrecked Here Christmas Eve 1886.” The story goes that the ship ran ashore and the lighthouse keeper saved everyone on the ship, but several days later a storm came through and destroyed it.
Spring Point Lighthouse is located just beyond the campus of the Southern Maine Technical Institute. Don’t drive through the middle of the roundabout (it has a slightly raised center) when school is in session. In the summer, no one is really on the campus and you’ll have less of a chance of being marked as a tourist (as if your out of town license plate won’t). The lighthouse is accessible by a long path of granite and makes a great place to stop and have a picnic.
The last lighthouse on the tour is in Bug Light Park. It can be seen from Spring Point and is also a great place to stop and watch the traffic on the bay if you have the time, which in Maine, there’s always time to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.