Early in 2019, my Tampa photography friends decided they wanted to go to Maine in September, so since I had been up there several years prior, I became the de facto trip leader. I wanted to hit some places that I had not visited the last time, so I chose Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, ME as our first stop.
We flew into Portland, Maine, picked up the rental cars and headed north. We drove up along the coast and with some comical GPS issues in the other car, we finally all made it to the parking lot of the lighthouse. The place was packed and I was a bit worried that our first adventure would be a bust but I did not have to worry as this place was amazing!
The two-plus weeks prior to our trip to Maine had been filled with the unending question of “is Hurricane Dorian going to hit Florida?” We were all exhausted from not knowing for so long. So when it finally decided to head north, we seemed to be following it! The massive clouds and waves that we found at Pemaquid Point were courtesy of Dorian!
The lighthouse was commissioned in 1827 by President John Quincy Adams and built that year. Because of poor workmanship (salt water was used in the mortar mix), the lighthouse began to crumble and was replaced in 1835. The second contract for the construction stipulated that only fresh water be used. Keeper Isaac Dunham oversaw the construction and wrote in a letter to the US Lighthouse Establishment that the agreement was upheld and the work went well.
The original light was an Argand-Lewis parabolic reflector, lit with candles and with a visibility of 2 miles (3.2 km). Augustin Fresnel invented a superior way of focusing light in the early 1850s and most lighthouses in the US were converted to the Fresnel Lens, with Pemaquid Point receiving a fourth-order Fresnel in 1856. The lens is one of only six Fresnel lenses still in service in Maine. The keeper’s house was built in 1857.
The lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and is licensed to the American Lighthouse Foundation. Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (FPPL), one of the 21 chapters of the Foundation, operates the lighthouse. Upkeep and ongoing restoration are funded solely by visitor donations. FPPL member docents open the lighthouse for visits from mid-May to mid-October.
The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places as ‘Pemaquid Point Light’ on April 16, 1985.
The lighthouse was interesting but the rocky shore was what got my attention. In Florida, the shore is sand, sand, and more sand, so seeing these volcanic rocks just got my photography imagination going!
From the top of the cliffs that the lighthouse sits, on the rocky shore was visible but the angle was not great.
I recalled some images I had seen from Pemaquid Point and walked around to see if I could find the view.
Upon wandering to the south side of the lighthouse I determined that the image had been taken from the rocky shore on the south end. I looked out over the rocks and there was not much in the way of wave action and no people, so I climbed down.
I found a pool of water in a depression in the rocks, got down low and found what I was looking for, a reflection of the lighthouse!
I continued to shoot, then a couple of other folks came down to see what I was doing. Unfortunately, they also walked over to my right toward the edge at about the same time as a very large wave crashed over the rocks that were about 10 feet higher. The ranger immediately hollered for everyone to come back up to the grassy area.
I managed to get a few more images and headed back up!
The Rocky Shore:
I walked back around to the other side again and decided to climb down the rocks (not an easy climb but doable) at the north end of the park and try to get some images down the flow lines of the rocks. We had to be very mindful as the large waves were periodically breaking over the edge of the rocks to our left.
I was pulled in by the lines on the rocks! Those leading lines going out to the waves and the storm clouds were a photographer’s dream.
I switched my lens to a wide-angle in order to get an image of the lighthouse from this side as well. The American flag was a bonus!
As the sun was setting we made our way back up to the parking area where I, as always, found some flowers to shoot.
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is a bit off the Interstate but it is well worth the time!
We finally got the group together, loaded into the two vehicles and headed north again.
We were going to Bar Harbor where we had rented a big gorgeous house out in the woods!
That evening, we planned on our first foray into Acadia National Park. Look for Maine – Part 2, soon!
For these and additional images from Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, please click any image or go to my Gallery.
That is all for now.