Bristol, Maine

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, perched on the rugged Pemaquid Point in Bristol, Maine, is a beacon of maritime history and coastal beauty. Shining since 1827.

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Pemaquid Point Lighthouse: Guiding Mariners, Preserving History

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, perched on the rugged Pemaquid Point in Bristol, Maine, is a beacon of maritime history and coastal beauty. Overlooking the entrances to Muscongus Bay and Johns Bay, this iconic lighthouse has stood the test of time, guiding sailors and inspiring visitors.

A Treacherous Coastline

The coast of Maine, with its rocky shores and unpredictable waters, has long been a challenge for mariners. Centuries of shipwrecks, including the tragic fate of the Angel Gabriel in 1635, underscored the need for a navigational aid at Pemaquid Point.

A Guiding Light Emerges

In 1826, recognizing the growing maritime traffic and the hazards posed by the rocky shoals, Congress allocated $4,000 for the construction of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse and its keeper's cottage were crafted from sturdy rubble stone. On November 29, 1827, the lighthouse's fixed white light, powered by a candle-lit Argand-Lewis parabolic reflector, shone forth, illuminating the perilous coastline.

Dedicated Keepers

Isaac Dunham, appointed as the first keeper in 1827, exemplified the dedication of lighthouse keepers. These stalwart individuals tended the lamps, maintained equipment, and braved harsh weather to ensure the light's continuous operation. Their unwavering commitment kept sailors safe through rain, snow, and fog.

The Need for Renewal

Despite its critical role, the initial lighthouse suffered from poor craftsmanship and the use of saltwater in the mortar mix. As a result, it was replaced in 1835.

A Sturdy Icon Emerges

The new lighthouse, constructed without the use of saltwater, emerged as a formidable structure in 1835. Built of rugged rubble stone and concrete, it stands 38 feet tall with a focal height of 79 feet. The tower, painted white with a black lantern, became home to a fourth-order Fresnel lens in 1856. This remarkable lens emits a distinctive white flash every six seconds, a vital navigational aid for mariners.

Honors and Recognition

In 1985, Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was bestowed with the honor of inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. This recognition is a testament to the lighthouse's cultural and historical significance. Its reference number, 85000843, signifies its place in American heritage.

A Symbol of Maine

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse holds a special place in the hearts of Maine's citizens. Chosen by popular vote, it graces the Maine state quarter, alongside an image of a schooner at sea. This iconic representation speaks to the lighthouse's enduring significance to the state. This quarter was issued in 2003.

Preserving the Legacy

Today, the United States Coast Guard maintains ownership of the lighthouse, with operational responsibility entrusted to the American Lighthouse Foundation. The Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (FPPL), a chapter of the foundation, oversees the operation of the lighthouse and its adjacent park.

A Destination for All

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park, managed and maintained by the Bristol Parks and Recreation Department, welcomes visitors from mid-May to mid to late October. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closing dates vary by year), guests can explore the park and its attractions. A parking area offers around 100 spaces, with an entrance fee per person: $4 for adults, $1 for children (5-11), and free admission for children aged 4 and under. Climbing the lighthouse tower incurs an additional $1 fee, with seasonal availability. The park boasts the Fisherman's Museum in the Keeper's House, the Pemaquid Art Gallery, the Learning Center, picnic areas, and restrooms. During the off-season, parking is free but there are no amenities available.

A Guiding Light and a Place of Beauty

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, with its striking appearance and storied history, continues to serve as a guiding light for mariners and a source of inspiration for all who visit its rugged shores.

Location Features

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3115 Bristol Road, Bristol, Maine

GPS Coordinates:
43.836994, -69.505987
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
There are about 100 parking spots right near the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. The Bristol Parks and Recreation Department charges an entrance fee per person. $4 for adults, $1 for children (5-11), and free for children 4 and under. An additional $1 is charged for visitors who climb the lighthouse tower which is open seasonally.


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