CREDITS: I would like to thank Jeremy D'Entremont for providing much of the history one can find on this site. He is a speaker, author, historian, and tour guide who is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the lighthouses of New England. For a story on Jeremy or to visit his site (New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide), use the corresponding link in the right hand information bar under "Related Links".

Search for Lighthouses


I have set up this site as a means to share my photographs of lighthouses. Since retiring and finding more time to study photography, my interests have expanded a little. For some of my work other than lighthouses please enjoy my Facebook page at, John Shaw Photography. Come visit, enjoy, and 'LIKE' if you wish.

Also, for your enjoyment, I have provided a slideshow of our journey. To view it please use the link on the right under 'Site Navigation Tools'.

I sincerely hope you enjoy my efforts and use my site not only for information and education but also to provide directions for many enjoyable, inspirational visits to the beacons along our beautiful coas.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Baby Hats

     My wife has been making baby hats (fruit & vegetables) in new born,six months, and one year old sizes.  She has been selling them for $20.00 each.  If you know anybody who might be interested have them e-mail her at, or call her at (207) 236-2039.








Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The North American Moose

     When I was studying for my Maine Guides license, I attended a lecture by a gnarly old Master Maine Guide.  He was speaking on the animals one would find in the Maine woods.  After covering in detail just about every animal imaginable, he concluded by saying that, "when God had made all of the animals, he had just odds and ends left for parts with no brains; with that he made the moose".

North American Bull Moose
     The North American Moose is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males. Moose typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests in temperate to subarctic climates. Moose used to have a much wider range but hunting and other human activities greatly reduced it over the years. Moose have been re-introduced to some of their former habitats. Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. The most common moose predators are wolves, bears, and humans. Unlike most other deer species, moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move surprisingly fast if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for the right to mate with a particular female.

North American Cow Moose
     In Northeastern North America, the Eastern moose's history is very well documented: moose meat was often a staple in the diet of Native Americans going back centuries and it is a tribe that occupied present day coastal Rhode Island that gave this deer its distinctive name in American English. The Native Americans often used moose hides for leather and its meat as an ingredient in pemmican, a type of dried jerky used as a source of sustenance in winter or on long journeys from home.[12] Eastern tribes also valued moose leather as a source to make moccasins and other decorations.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Cape Elizabeth (Two Lights) Lighthouse

     "The Two Lights of Cape Elizabeth stand up at the end of a long and narrow granite ridge raised fifty or sixty feet above the low ground around it. ...The outlook opened to us here, whether of sea or shore, of windy cape or tumbling surf, is uncommonly fine, if only one could get rid of the train of ideas that these roaring reefs on one hand, and the life-saving station on the other infallibly suggest. Even in the season of calm seas and serene skies these gray little cabins by the sea constantly remind us of lurking dangers..."

        -- Samuel Adams Drake, The Pine Tree Coast, 1891.

The West Inactive Lighthouse

The East Active Lighthouse
     When the English explorer Captain John Smith sailed along the coast of New England in 1614, he named a prominent cape in what is now southern Maine after Princess Elizabeth, sister of Charles I. Two-hundred-acre Richmond Island, a short distance off Cape Elizabeth to the south, was the site of the earliest European settlement in this part of Maine, beginning in 1628. The settlement that later developed on the cape was, for many years, part of the town of Falmouth.
     Cape Elizabeth was incorporated as a separate town in 1765. In 1895, the northern half of the town was incorporated as South Portland. It was the development of Portland Harbor, along the north side of the cape on the Fore River, that led to the need for better aids to navigation in the vicinity. The harbor rebounded after the Revolution to become the most important seaport in the state.
     The approach to Portland Harbor from the south was treacherous, and as maritime trade increased, so did shipwrecks. One of the most heart-rending near Cape Elizabeth was the July 12, 1807, wreck of the schooner Charles, which was dashed to pieces on a reef in fog and heavy seas. At least 16 men and women died in the disaster.
     A 50-foot stone black and white pyramidal stone day beacon was erected in 1811 on a rocky promontory at the southeastern point of Cape Elizabeth, at the southwestern limit of Casco Bay and about five miles southeast of Portland Harbor.
     A sum of $4,500 was appropriated for a light station at Cape Elizabeth in February 1828. It was determined that the station would have two lights, one fixed and one revolving, to differentiate it from Wood Island Light (revolving) to the south, and from Portland Head Light (fixed) to the north. The stone marker was torn down to make way for the first pair of Cape Elizabeth lighthouses, built for $4,250. The east light was built on the former site of the marker, and the inner or west light was built directly to the west, 895 feet away.
     Both 65-foot towers (to the tops of the lanterns) were octagonal and built of rubblestone, with octagonal wrought-iron lanterns. The east tower had 15 a fixed white light 129 feet above mean high water. The west tower had an apparatus that revolved to produce a flashing light, 132 feet above mean high water.

     The lights were in service by the end of October 1828. They were considered among the most important on the coast; mariners approaching Portland Harbor would line them up to know they were on course (similar to the Kennebec River Range Lights only much larger).

    In his 1843 report to Congress, the civil engineer I. W. P. Lewis was very critical of the construction of the towers. Lewis also reported additionally that the fog bell could not be heard above the roar of the surf.  George Fickett, keeper since 1841, complained that the great distance between the two towers made his work arduous, especially when snow filled the valley between them.
     Hiram Staples followed Fickett as keeper in 1844. During his tenure in 1847, it was recorded that the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who lived in Portland, visited the station and climbed the west tower.
     In 1853, J. B. Coyle of the Portland Steam Packet Company complained that the fog bell was “entirely too small for one occupying so important position.” At a cost of $2,500, a larger bell and new striking machinery were installed in the following year. By the end of 1854, the towers got new cast-iron stairways, and both were lined with brick. Fresnel lenses were installed in the towers around the same time, replacing the old multiple lamps and reflectors.
     In the summer of 1855, it was announced that the west light was to be discontinued, and the characteristic of the east light would be changed to occulting. Despite protests, the change went into effect on August 1, 1855. Under this arrangement, the single revolving light was often hard to distinguish from Wood Island Light to the south.
     On April 1, 1856, the two lights were returned to their former condition, and the light at Wood Island was changed from white to red to eliminate any chance of confusion.
     During the Civil War, Asbury Staples, the assistant keeper in charge of the west light, enlisted in the Second Maine Battery Light Artillery. His father, Michael Staples, who was also an assistant keeper, requested that his other children be officially appointed as assistants. His teenaged daughter Amelia and her younger brother, Charles, became responsible for keeping the light and related equipment.
     Amelia and Charles assisted in the grim task of draping the towers in black at the news of President Lincoln’s assassination.
    The lights were repainted in 1865 in an effort to make them easier to recognize in daylight. The west tower received one large vertical red stripe, while the east tower was painted with four horizontal red bands.

The Signal Building with Modern Fog Horn in Front

       A steam fog whistle with a powerful eight-second blast was installed in 1869, with a new building to house the equipment.  A larger brick fog signal building, 32 by 32 feet, was constructed in 1886.

     In 1872, the Lighthouse Board announced that the two tower had deteriorated to the point that they had to be rebuilt. A pair of identical 67-foot cast-iron towers replaced the original towers in 1874, after a congressional appropriation of $30,000. The cast-iron segments of the towers were manufactured at the Portland Machine Works.  The lighthouses were given delicate Italianate architectural detailing and a new wood-frame, one-and-one-half-story dwelling was built for the principal keeper near the east tower in 1878.

     The west light was discontinued again in 1882; again it was relighted after complaints that the remaining light was too easily confused with Wood Island Light to the south. The towers were painted brown during two separate periods; they have been white since 1902.

     Marcus Aurelius Hanna, a Medal of Honor winner in the Civil War, was keeper in 1885 during one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of the light station. On the night of January 28, Hanna was suffering from a bad cold. A storm hit and increased in severity as the night progressed.
     Hanna sounded the steam fog whistle all night despite being ill and exhausted. Assistant Keeper Hiram Staples relieved Hanna at 6:00 a.m. The blizzard was by then "one of the coldest and most violent storms of snow, wind and vapor... that I ever witnessed," Hanna later said. The keeper had to crawl through enormous snowdrifts back to the house.
     Hanna was soon asleep. His wife extinguished the lights in both towers after sunrise. Then, at 8:40 a.m., Mrs. Hanna looked out toward the ocean and saw a schooner aground on Dyer's Ledge near the fog signal building. The vessel was the Australia out of Boothbay. The schooner had been headed for Boston with a cargo of ice from the Kennebec River in the hold and 150 barrels of mackerel on deck. The captain had already been swept away by the waves; only two crew members remained alive. The men had climbed to the rigging and were practically frozen alive in the bitter cold.
     The keeper's wife shouted to her husband, "There is a vessel ashore near the fog signal!" Hanna rushed to the signal house. Amazingly, Assistant Keeper Staples hadn't seen the wreck through the thick snow. Hanna and Staples hurried to the edge of the water near the schooner.
     The keeper said later, "I felt a terrible responsibility thrust upon me, and I resolved to attempt the rescue at any hazard." Hanna tried a number of times to throw a line to the vessel but failed. Feeling the situation was hopeless, Staples returned to the fog signal building. Meanwhile, Hanna's wife alerted neighbors.
     Hanna, practically frozen by this time, waded waist-deep into the ocean and again threw a line to the schooner, this time hitting his target. Crewman Irving Pierce managed to pull himself from the rigging and tied the line around himself. Hanna somehow pulled the helpless man through the waves and over the rocks to the shore. According to Hanna, "Pierce's jaws were set; he was totally blind from exposure to the cold, and the expression of his face I shall not soon forget.
     After several tries, Hanna landed the line on the Australia again. The other crewman, William Kellar, tied the rope around himself. Hanna's strength was giving out and he faltered as he tried to pull the man to safety. Just then, Assistant Keeper Staples and two neighbors arrived. The four men hauled Kellar to the shore, then carried the two sailors to the fog signal building. The men were given dry clothes and, once they had thawed enough, hot food and drink. After two days they had recovered enough to be taken to Portland by sled.
     Six months later, Marcus Hanna received a gold lifesaving medal for "heroism involving great peril to his life," after what has to rank as one of the greatest lifesaving feats at an American lighthouse. In August 1997, the Coast Guard launched a new $12.5 million 175-foot buoy tender named the Marcus Hanna. A replica of Hanna's lifesaving medal is mounted on board. The cutter's home port is South Portland, Maine.

    In 1924, the government decided to change all twin light stations to single lights. The west light was extinguished for good.
     On December 20, 1925, the east light was electrified and increased to 500,000 candlepower, which at the time made it the second most powerful light in New England (after Highland Light on Cape Cod).
     Another famous wreck near Two Lights was the coal collier Oakey L. Alexander in 1947. The vessel broke in two eight miles from Cape Elizabeth in a March gale. The stern half, with 32 crew members aboard, drifted onto the rocks near the lighthouse station.
     Earle Drinkwater and his crew at the nearby Cape Elizabeth Lifeboat Station, with help from other Coast Guardsmen and local fishermen, rescued the entire crew by breeches buoy. The wrecked Alexander remained just offshore at Cape Elizabeth for years and was viewed by countless sightseers.
     Cape Elizabeth Light was immortalized in a few of Edward Hopper's paintings in the 1920s, one of which was reproduced on a 1970 postage stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of Maine's statehood.
     The light was automated in 1963, and the 1,800-pound second order Fresnel lens was removed in 1994.

Scuba Divers in Cove at East Light
     Local residents lobbied for the preservation and display of the lens. It was the last lens floating on a mercury bath in use in New England. The lens is now on display at Cape Elizabeth Town Hall and is insured for up to $500,000.
     Cape Elizabeth Light, one of the most handsome cast-iron lighthouses in New England, remains an active aid to navigation, and the optic and related equipment are still maintained by the Coast Guard. The grounds immediately around the lighthouse are not open to the public.

    Directions:  From Portland / South Portland, take RT77 to Cape Elizabeth.  Continue about four miles, then bear left onto Two Lights Road )Two Lights State Park is to the right).  Continue for about 1.5 miles, turning left at Two Lights Terrace; the active light and keeper’s house (private property) are on a knoll at the end of the road.  The inactive tower is to the left shortly after turning onto Two Lights Terrace.  The active lighthouse also may be photographed from a park area at the end of Two Lights Road.  It should be noted that neither light can be seen from Two Lights State Park.  Morning light is best for photography.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse

     Spring Point Ledge is a dangerous obstruction on the west side of the main shipping channel from the south into Portland Harbor. Many vessels ran aground on the ledge before requests from seven steamship companies in 1891 convinced the federal government to build a lighthouse. The steamship companies had carried more than 500,000 passengers through the area during the previous year.
     Spring Point Ledge Light is a fairly typical "sparkplug" style lighthouse of the period, built on a cylindrical cast-iron caisson. Unlike many of this type, however, the tower is built of brick rather than cast-iron.

     It was first lighted May 24, 1897 by Keeper William A. Lane. The 54-foot lighthouse has a storeroom and cistern in the basement, topped by four levels including a keeper's office and two levels of living .  It is one of the only Maine lighthouses where the keepers lived in the actual light tower.

      An oil room in the basement contained a 239-gallon tank for the kerosene that fueled the light in its early days, until it was electrified in 1934.  A fog bell hung on the side of the tower, which sounded a double blow every 12 seconds.
     Spring Point Ledge Light was a "stag station," with a male keeper and assistant keeper living inside the tower. Keepers had to be creative in their means of exercise. Somebody figured that it took 56 jogs around the tower's main deck to make one mile. Once, a keeper was running laps in this fashion and forgot to close a trap door. He slipped through the opening and only a ladder prevented him from falling 17 feet to a rock ledge and swirling waves.
     In its early years, the lighthouse's foundation was battered and damaged by ice. Granite blocks were piled around the foundation to protect it, and there have been no further problems.

     Daniel J. Doyle was keeper from 1915 to 1918. He occupied his spare time by playing cribbage and building ship models. Keeper Doyle had a family living in Portland. His schedule called for him to come ashore after two weeks at the lighthouse, but stormy weather sometimes prevented him from leaving the station for up to two months at a stretch.
     One of the light's best known keepers was Augustus Aaron "Gus" Wilson, a native of Tremont, Maine. He gained wide fame as one of New England’s most accomplished carvers of wooden bird decoys. He carved a variety of ducks, shore birds, seagulls, and songbirds; it’s been estimated that his total production was in excess of 5,000 carvings. “Gus whittled every spare moment,” said Fred Anderson, a local man who spent much time with the keeper.
Wilson carved duck decoys by the hundreds and sold them to a store in Portland for 75 cents each. He was renowned for his carving skill and imagination, and his work became highly collectible. One of Wilson’s decoys fetched $195,500 at a 2005 auction. His work has been displayed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.  A display in the lighthouse tells the story of Gus Wilson and his decoys.
     In 1951, a 900-foot breakwater was constructed with 50,000 tons of granite, joining the lighthouse to the mainland.

     Directions:  Spring Point Ledge Light is easily reached by land, and tour boats and ferries leaving Portland pass the lighthouse. The campus of Southern Maine Community College adjoins the property.  From ME 77 in Portland, turn east onto Broadway and continue to Pickett Street.  Turn right onto Pickett Street and follow it to the end.  Turn left onto Fort Road which ends at Fort Preble (now Southern Maine Technical College) and a parking area.  The light and breakwater are immediately ahead just to the right.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Black Squirrel

     The black squirrel is a melanistic subgroup of the eastern grey squirrel. As a melanistic variety of the Grey Squirrel, individual black squirrels can exist wherever Gray Squirrels live. The black subgroup is particularly abundant in the northern part of the Eastern Grey's range. This may be due to the significantly increased cold tolerance of black individuals. Large natural populations of black squirrels can be found throughout Ontario, and in several parts of Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. Populations of grey squirrels in which the black subgroup is dominant can be found in these four areas as well as in smaller enclaves in New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut.

     I snapped this shot outside The Butterfly Conservatory in Niagaga Falls, Ontario.  Has anyone ever seen one in Maine?