The coast of Maine is dotted with historic lighthouses. Some are more picturesque than others. Some are more accessible than others. One that features the best of both worlds is Pemaquid Point Light in Bristol.
Only Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth and perhaps the red-and-white striped light at West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec are more recognizable than the Pemaquid lighthouse. In 2003 it was the Pemaquid Point Light – not it’s more famous cousin to the south – that was chosen to represent Maine on the commemorative state quarter.
The initial lighthouse on this point, marking the entrance to Muscongus Bay, was built in 1827. The first tower started to crumble shortly thereafter and was replaced by the current structure in the 1830’s. A fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed in 1857 and remains in use today. Its beacon is visible 14 miles out to sea. Learn more at the New England Lighthouses web site.
The lighthouse sits in Pemaquid Lighthouse Park, which is operated by the Town of Bristol and is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is $2 per person. During the summer months the tower, which is operated by the American Lighthouse Foundation, is open for tours. Those who are able can climb to the top of the 38-foot structure to see the lens up close and admire the spectacular views from on high.
Entry to the park is not required to photograph the lighthouse, however. Wonderful photos can be captured from the rocks below, or from the point off Pemaquid Loop Road. Because the tower is situated on a point, this is a terrific spot to take photos at both sunrise and sunset. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a terrific resource that shows the time and direction of the rising and setting sun and moon, enabling you to set up for that perfect shot.
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is about a 90-minute drive from Portland, and easy to find at the end of Route 130. While the light itself is worth the drive, there are many other attractions in the area. Historic Fort Pemaquid is nearby, as are the picturesque villages of Bristol Mills, New Harbor and Round Pond. Damariscotta offers many shops and restaurants, and the Todd Audubon Sanctuary of Maine Audubon is just up the road in Bremen.
Summer is the perfect time to venture about Maine. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is worth the trip.
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