New England’s iconic lighthouses are much revered and photographed. Visit this park to see one that symbolizes the Down East image.
Fort Williams Park with Portland Head Light on a craggy shore is definitely worth seeing. Gaze at this structure that played a role in defending American independence in the 18th century. The 90-acre (36-hectare) park offers scenic walks for a memorable family outing.
Imagine the early days when the Portland Head Light area was recognized for its strategic importance. Initially, a small group of soldiers was posted to look over the ocean for signs of invasion by British forces. Construction of the light began in 1787 and was completed in 1791. The buildings were extended and the light was raised from 72 feet (22 meters) to 92 feet (28 meters) in 1865.
Listen to the foghorn on days with low visibility and watch the light as it turns. The mechanism has been automated since 1989. Regardless of the weather, the lighthouse’s setting is picturesque.
Visit the museum and gift shop to learn more of its history and pick up a memento to take home. Take a picture of this structure; it’s one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States.
Concern over the park’s fragile ecology prompted residents of Cape Elizabeth to develop protected areas that include places showcasing natural and historic elements of this unique landscape. Walk through these areas featuring wild flowers, birds and amphibians. The children’s garden invites climbing, exploration and discovery in a natural playground, complete with a tree fort lookout.
Two gun batteries were built here in the early 1900s but became obsolete by World War I. A submarine net was controlled at one of the fortifications during World War II to guard Portland’s harbor.
Be amazed to discover the shell of a mansion in the park that was used just one year as a home. Goddard Mansion was built for a local businessman who briefly served as an army colonel in the Civil War.
Drive south from Portland to Cape Elizabeth to get here. Visit Fort Williams Park from sunrise to sunset year-round. Entrance and parking are free. The lighthouse museum opens at varied times and has an admission fee.