Cape Elizabeth Lights

Cape Elizabeth Lights

Cape Elizabeth Lights also known as Two Lights is a lightstation located just south of Portland, on Cape Elizabeth, Maine, United States. Only the eastern tower of the two that used to comprise the lightstation up to 1924 is currently active. The western tower was deactivated in that year, however the tower is still standing and is privately owned. The facility is adjacent to "Two Lights State Park", a 41 acre (166,000 m²) state facility which allows a view of and access to the grounds of the lighthouse. The light uses a second-order Fresnel lens, and projects a beacon with an intensity of 4 megacandelas. This is currently the most intense light of its kind in New England.


The area is known as "Two Lights" due to the history of the station. It was originally built in 1828 as two rubblestone towers apart. Steam-driven warning whistles were installed in the twin towers in 1869, the first used within the United States. In 1874, both structures were replaced by conical towers made of cast-iron, each high and above sea level. Despite its twin beacons, Cape Elizabeth witnessed many shipwrecks. In January 1885, during a raging snowstorm, keeper Marcus A. Hanna made a daring rescue of two seamen from the schooner "Australia," which had run aground on a nearby ledge.

The use of multiple lights in a given site was discontinued in 1924. The western light was removed from service, and eventually sold to a private party in the 1970s. The eastern tower remains in service as "Cape Elizabeth Light."

From Coast Guard web site

General Information:

Two rubblestone towers were first erected on Cape Elizabeth in 1828 at a cost of $4,250. President John Quincy Adams appointed Elisha Jordan as the first keeper in October 1828 at a salary of $450 per year. In 1855 Fresnel lenses were installed and in 1869 a giant steam whistle was set up for use in foggy weather. In 1873 the rubble towers were taken down and two cast-iron edifices erected, apart. One was a fixed and one a flashing light. A fog siren replaced the locomotive whistle.

One of the most thrilling episodes in the history of the lighthouse occurred on January 28, 1885, when Keeper Marcus A. Hanna saved two crew members of the schooner Australia which had grounded on the ledge near the fog signal station. The two men had taken to the rigging and were coated with ice, unable to move. The captain was drowned as a huge comber washed the deck. Keeper Hanna, securing a heavy iron weight to the end of a stout line, attempted time and again to reach the men with it. Suddenly a towering wave struck the schooner and smashed her against the rocks, putting her on her beam ends.

Keeper Hanna again threw his line and watched it land on the schooner. One of the seamen managed to reach it and bent it around his waist. Then he jumped into the sea and the keeper, with great effort, pulled him up over the rocky ledge. The keeper now heaved the line a second time and finally it reached the second seaman who wound it around his icy body. Then he too jumped into the ocean. Just as the keeper’s strength was exhausted in trying to haul ashore the second man, help came in the shape of the keeper’s assistant and two neighbors, who helped haul the man to safety.

In the 1920’s the west tower of Cape Elizabeth Light was dismantled.

The light, at the south entrance to Portland Harbor, is equipped with a 1,800,000 candlepower light visible for . The white conical tower is above ground and above water.


  • Crompton, Samuel Willard. "The Lighthouse Book." Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1999. ISBN 0-7607-1135-6.

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