Portland Breakwater Light (Bug Light)

(2 reviewss)


Portland Breakwater Light (also known as Bug Light) is a beautiful 25-foot lighthouse located at the entrance to Portland Harbor in Maine.

In 1836, the government built a breakwater at the entrance to Portland Harbor in Maine. A lighthouse with a wooden structure was added to the breakwater in 1855 to help mariners navigate in and out of the busy harbor. This original lighthouse began to break down and lacked functionality, so a new lighthouse was approved in 1874. 

In 1875, a new lighthouse was constructed. This lighthouse was constructed of curved cast-iron plates with seams concealed by six decorative Corinthian columns and it was painted white.The project was influenced by the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, which was easily discovered through engravings. The architect was Thomas U. Walter, best known for designing the east and west wings of the United States Capitol as well as the current dome. The lighthouse was dubbed “Bug Light” because of its small size. Wooden sheds and a six-room house for the lighthouse keeper were built in stages as needed.

Spring Point Ledge Light was built in 1897, and the houses surrounding Portland Breakwater Light were demolished. Instead of keepers at both lighthouses, the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse keepers cared for both lighthouses. During WWII, the breakwater was gradually absorbed by landfills as the New England Shipbuilding Corporation constructed two shipyards next to the lighthouse. For the war effort, these shipyards built Liberty Ships. Because of the smaller breakwater, Portland Breakwater Light was no longer needed and was decommissioned in 1943.

Portland Breakwater Light was completely restored in 1989 and reopened in 2002. Portland Breakwater Light is listed as a private aid to navigation on the US Coast Guard’s Light List. Today, Bug Light Park, named after the lighthouse, allows visitors to get up close and personal with the Portland Breakwater Light while also commemorating World War II shipbuilding efforts. On June 19, 1973, the Portland Breakwater Light was added to the National Register of Historic Places as reference number 73000238.

Looking to explore more beautiful spots in Maine? Check out the GoXplr Maine Map at goxplr.com/map/maine!


Lighthouse Specs

  • Originally constructed: 1855
  • Current tower constructed: 1875
  • First lit: 1875 (current tower)
  • Construction: Iron plate with brick lining
  • Tower shape: Conical
  • Height: 25 feet (7.6 m)
  • Focal height: 30 feet (9.1 m)
  • Markings: White – resembles 4th-century Greek monument
  • Characteristic: Decorative light
  • Range: N/A
  • Status: Active – Privately Owned – Owned and managed by City of South Portland
  • NRHP number: 73000238


  • Address: S Portland Greenbelt Pathway
  • Town: South Portland
  • State: Maine
  • GPS: Lat 43.65556 Lng -70.23484
  • Parking notes: There are 34 free parking spots at Bug Light Park located right near the lighthouse. There are many overflow parking spots at the Bug Light Boat Ramp.
  • Parking directions: HERE
  • Location directions: HERE

2 reviews for Portland Breakwater Light (Bug Light)

  1. Utpal Mitra

    Bug light house @portland ,Maine..

    Image #1 from Utpal Mitra
  2. Garrick Hoffman

    A bundle of sunflowers taken at sunset at Bug Light Park in South Portland, Maine 🌻

    Image #1 from Garrick Hoffman
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