Portland Head Lighthouse Portland Head Lighthouse

Portland Head Lighthouse, I’ve read many times that it is the most photographed lighthouse in the world… why is it? Here are my thoughts…

I am fascinated with maps, so I wanted to share with you this map, to help you get your bearings, in case you haven’t been to this part of the Maine coast. Portland Head Lighthouse marks the beginning of the entrance to Portland Harbor in Casco Bay on the coast of Maine. Portland Head Lighthouse

Google Maps

From this zoomed out map, it looks like there is plenty of room to bring in ships, but closer inspection shows there are rocky ledges to avoid. So I guess that may be why the ships tend to come in from down East up to the harbor in Portland.

As you can see in this picture I took on our last visit to Portland Head… Portland Head Lighthouse

it sits on a rocky cliff on the edge of the coast.

Although there are some sandy beaches in Maine, (click here to see our favorite: Goose Rocks Beach) the rocky cliffs are the quintessential view we picture of Maine, and rightly so, because there are lots of those rocky cliffs! In fact, Maine’s coast is mostly rocky cliffs, the sandy beaches are rare treasures speckled here and there among the rock face of the coast.

The ‘house’ part of the ‘lighthouse’ is so charming! Portland Head Lighthouse

This is the oldest lighthouse in Maine… it was built in 1790! That’s when the president was George Washington! Portland Head Lighthouse

This plaque, commemorating the bicentennial of Portland Head is mounted on the side of the house.

From the driveway walkway one can go right up to the lighthouse. Portland Head Lighthouse

I love visiting lighthouses… it’s so fun to imagine life being the lighthouse keeper…

Notice how the house is connected to the lighthouse? Most of the lighthouses I’ve been to are this way. I imagine it’s so that the lighthouse keeper can get to the light in case of inclement weather.

And here on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, inclement weather is putting it mildly… a wave could wash you over in high winds and seas.

When we visit the lighthouses, it is in mild weather and easy to think what an idyllic life, but in reality when the light was needed  most would have been in a fog or storm… Here are some interesting and tragic stories about a couple of historical shipwrecks that took place right here off the coast! Portland Head Lighthouse

Truth be told, it’s hard not to get a beautiful picture of Portland Head Lighthouse.

When we went there, I only had my phone with me, so all these pictures were taken with that…

While we were at Portland Head, we also saw this pass by… Portland Head Lighthouse

The HUGE catamaran called ‘The Cat’. You can take it to Nova Scotia from Portland, ME in something like 5 hours. That smaller ferry boat in the foreground was rocking back and forth on the waves, but the Cat didn’t even look like it was rocking at all, it was so large.

Here’s a short video of it I shot to show you the difference… it’ll be just like being there… because you might get a bit seasick watching it, it is a little shaky! But it gives you a glimpse of the catamaran and even a peek of Ram Ledge Lighthouse…

When you are on the grounds of the lighthouse, you can see this other lighthouse out across the water… Portland Head Lighthouse

It is Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse. See what I mean about rocks and ledges jutting up in the water? Just think of a captain trying to maneuver his ship safely through, before GPS. Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse has some interesting recent history of it’s own… Click here to read more about how it was sold in the past few years to a private party in a bidding war that made some folks kinda heated. 

Here’s a picture clearly showing the two lighthouses in the same view: Portland Head Lighthouse

So why is Portland Head Lighthouse the most photographed?

Well, it is beautiful! It sits so picturesquely on the rocky cliff, it is the oldest lighthouse in Maine, commissioned by President George Washington, it marks the beginning of the entrance to the busiest harbor in Maine, and it’s easy to get to on the edge of the city of Portland, plus the house is so stunning in it’s symmetrical style.  I just think it’s a combination of all these features that make it so photographed.

Now that you know it’s so popular, watch for it! I’ve even noticed Portland Head in a few TV commercials in the last couple of years, and it always seems to make the ‘lighthouse’ calendars.

Please share… Have you ever been to Portland Head Lighthouse? We’d love to hear about it!!!


As always, please feel free to share this blog with your friends, as well as on Facebook and Pinterest the more the merrier!

I appreciate you stopping by.


Want to read a little more?

Click here to go to the Portland Head Lighthouse official website, with gorgeous pictures!

Click here to read some more about my travels including my time in Maine.

Click here to read about decorating a coastal cottage in Maine.


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