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Official Tourism Site for the Greater Portland Region of Maine


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Convention + Visitors Bureau
Official Tourism Site of Greater Portland Maine
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207-772-5800 |

Maritime History


More than a beautiful backdrop, the ocean has always been significant to the region's livelihood and to its defense in wartime.


Named as a National Historic Landmark in 2006, the Portland Observatory is the only remaining historic maritime signal station in the US. In 1807, ships entering Portland Harbor could not be seen from the city's docks until they were almost upon them. Lemuel Moody, sea-captain turned entrepreneur, capitalized on the situation by erecting an 86-foot high tower that allowed incoming sailing ships to be identified from 30 miles away, signaling the arrival of their vessels with a system of colored flags. Today, visitors can climb the stairs of Moody's octagonal wooden tower and take in magnificent views over Portland and Casco Bay.


Constructed in 1897 to mark a dangerous ledge,Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, now fully automated, continues to steer mariners away from its treacherous location. In the 1950,s the Army Corps of Engineers built a 900-foot granite breakwater between the lighthouse and shore, making Spring Point one of the only caisson-style lighthouses accessible by land.

Certainly the most-photographed lighthouse in Maine, Portland Head Light was also the State's first lighthouse, commissioned in 1791 by President George Washington. Since then, the 80-foot conical tower of white field stone and brick has shone its beacon continuously at the entrance to Portland Harbor. Situated on the spectacular shores of Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, the Museum at Portland Head Light occupies the former Keeper's Quarters and chronicles the history of the lighthouse and the park.

Several forts dot the islands of Casco Bay as well, tributes to the region's role in wartime defense, including Fort Preble on the campus of Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, Fort Gorges, located at the mouth of Portland harbor, and the WWII battery at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth.

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207-772-5800 |