Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse (Two Lights), Casco Bay, Maine
Built in 1828.
CAPE ELIZABETH LIGHTS
CASCO BAY ENTRANCE
Station Established: 1828
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1874
Automated? YES 1963
Deactivated: WEST TOWER WAS DEACTIVATED IN 1924.
Foundation Materials: STONE
Construction Materials: CAST IRON
Tower Shape: CONICAL ATTACHED TO ENTRANCE ROOM; East Tower: CONICAL W/OUT LANTERN
Markings/Pattern: WHITE W/BLACK TRIM; East Tower: WHITE
Relationship to Other Structure: SEPARATE
Original Lens: SECOND ORDER, FRESNEL 1874
Two rubblestone towers were first erected on Cape Elizabeth in 1828 at a cost of $4,250. President John Quincy Adams appointed Elisha Jordan as the first keeper in October 1828 at a salary of $450 per year. In 1855 Fresnel lenses were installed and in 1869 a giant steam whistle was set up for use in foggy weather. In 1873 the rubble towers were taken down and two cast-iron edifices erected, 300 yards apart. One was a fixed and one a flashing light. A fog siren replaced the locomotive whistle.
One of the most thrilling episodes in the history of the lighthouse occurred on January 28, 1885, when Keeper Marcus A. Hanna saved two crew members of the schooner Australia which had grounded on the ledge near the fog signal station. The two men had taken to the rigging and were coated with ice, unable to move. The captain was drowned as a huge comber washed the deck. Keeper Hanna, securing a heavy iron weight to the end of a stout line, attempted time and again to reach the men with it. Suddenly a towering wave struck the schooner and smashed her against the rocks, putting her on her beam ends.
Keeper Hanna again threw his line and watched it land on the schooner. One of the seamen managed to reach it and bent it around his waist. Then he jumped into the sea and the keeper, with great effort, pulled him up over the rocky ledge. The keeper now heaved the line a second time and finally it reached the second seaman who wound it around his icy body. Then he too jumped into the ocean. Just as the keeper’s strength was exhausted in trying to haul ashore the second man, help came in the shape of the keeper’s assistant and two neighbors, who helped haul the man to safety.
In the 1920’s the west tower of Cape Elizabeth Light was dismantled.
The light, at the south entrance to Portland Harbor, is equipped with a 1,800,000 candlepower light visible for 17 miles. The white conical tower is 67 feet above ground and 129 feet above water.