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".

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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.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

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.

     CreditsI would like to thank Jeremy D'Entremont, webmaster of,, for sharing the above history.  Jeremy is a speaker, author, historian, and tour guide who is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the lighthouses of New England.  To view a story on him, go to, (Jeremy D'Entremont).  

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