Published April 17th, 2012
Spring arrived in force last week in Maine and now the air smells sweetly of flowers and saltwater, the songbirds are chirping, and everyone is strutting around in sunglasses and brimmed hats. All of this warm weather’s got me thinking about fun things to do off the coast during the spring and summer months, and one of my favorites is taking a tour of our nearby lighthouse, Fort Point Light in Stockton Springs.
Fort Point was built in 1836 to guide ships to the then-bustling lumber and potato port in Bangor. The first lighthouse keeper was William Clewly, who had sold the land for the granite lighthouse to the government. After Clewly, a short list of only a handful of keepers kept watch over the lighthouse for decades until it was modernized in 1988. Why so few keepers? Well, keepers assigned to Fort Point usually stayed on for a while. The site was a desirable gig because it was accessible and close to a popular hotel that provided entertainment and society to what is usually a very isolating job.
Over the years, there have been some changes to the original Fort Point structure. In 1857, a two-story keeper’s house was added and the granite lighthouse was replaced with a 31-foot square brick tower. In the second half of the century, an oil house, a barn, and a bell tower were built; all of these are still standing. Be sure to check out the bell tower if you go – it’s on the National Register of Historic Places because of its rare pyramid shape.
The lighthouse still uses its 1857 Fresnel lens but Fort Point has, like most other lighthouses, gone automatic. You can visit the lighthouse by car by following signs for Fort Point State Park off of U.S. Route 1 in Stockton Springs, or you can check it out by sea on one of our local day cruises. For more on the lighthouse and tours inside, check out the Maine Office of Tourism’s Fort Point page.