Rockland Breakwater


The Rockland Breakwater is a nearly mile-long stretch of granite that protects Rockland Harbor from the coastal storms of the Atlantic Ocean. In the 19th century, Rockland Harbor was regarded as one of the best harbors east of Portland, but the one major flaw was its protection. Rockland Harbor’s large east-facing opening had no island or peninsula in front of it to shield the harbor from storms. Instead, the harbor would have to face storms head-on. This often led to major storms knocking around boats and causing destruction.

For decades, the town of Rockland sought funding from the government to build some sort of breakwater. In 1880, the government officially approved the Rockland Breakwater project. The United States Army Corps of Engineers built the breakwater between 1881 and 1900 to protect the maritime industries of Rockland and provide a harbor of refuge for coastal traveling vessels. When completed, the 4,346-foot-long granite structure stretched across the mouth of Rockland Harbor south from Jameson Point. The Rockland Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse was added to the end of the breakwater in 1902.

It should be noted that the Rockland Breakwater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it received this honor in 2003. The breakwater was extremely significant to Rockland’s maritime industries, but also to the lime, cement, and granite industries. Lime exaction, cement production, and granite quarrying were all occurring in, and close to, Rockland. This allowed the Corps of Engineers to use local materials and benefit the local economy. The Rockland Breakwater is a spectacular example of a 19th-century breakwater designed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers using local materials!

Today, it is open to the public.


Historic Specs

  • Year built: 1880-1900. Opened in 1900.
  • Original function: Breakwater to protect Rockland Harbor in Maine
  • Architect(s): US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Year added to NRHP: 2003
  • NRHP number: 03000203
  • Status: Public
  • Admission cost: Free


  • Address: Samoset Rd
  • Town: Rockland
  • State: Maine
  • GPS: Lat 44.114037 Lng -69.081422
  • Parking notes: There is ample free parking for Rockland Harbor Breakwater at the end of Samoset Rd.
  • Parking directions: HERE
  • Location directions: HERE


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