Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Bristol, Maine

  • Site Established: 1827
  • Current Bldg. Erected: 1835
  • Height of Light Structure: 38 ft.
  • Focal Plane of Light: 79 ft.
  • Active: Yes
  • Lens: Fourth Order Fresnel

Historic Significance Score: 3

In 1826, the U.S. Congress appropriated $4,000 for the building of a lighthouse at Pemaquid Point, which was completed in 1827. It served as a dual beacon for both Muscongus and Johns bays.

After the new tower showed severe signs of deterioration, possibly due to the original builders using salt water in the mortar, a second tower, which is now still standing, was built in 1835.

The point has been the sight of several shipwrecks pre- and post-dating its lighthouse. The Angel Gabriel in 1935, the George F. Edmunds in 1903, and others all fell victim to the rocky, dangerous coastline.

One distinguishing point of this lighthouse is that it has a small, adjacent bell tower that has been powered by hand, steam engine and an automated, clock-like mechanism.

In 1972, a Fishermen’s Museum opened in the light keeper’s house. Currently, this museum segregates the keeper’s house into one room dedicated to the lighthouse and three dedicated to the Fishermen’s Museum.

The Fishermen’s Museum features a 26-pound lobster mounted on the wall.

Majesty Score: 5

Pemaquid Point has awe-inspiring majesty! This is largely due to the elevated location and the sloping, layered granite rocks that the lighthouse stands guard on. The stubby width of the tower really lends to the lighthouse’s overall character as well.

Water View Score: 5

Pemaquid Point has an awe-inspiring water view! There are layered rocks completely surrounding the white tower, which the ocean tirelessly crashes against (see above). Out of the many lighthouses we have visited, this lighthouse seems to have the hardest-hitting ocean against it, when considering all Atlantic coast lighthouses. The water view here is really something to take in and enjoy!

There were many people sitting on the lighthouse lawn enjoying the elevated view, so you don’t have to be a rock climber to share in this experience!

On a clear day, you can see Monhegan Island off in the distance as well.

Preservation Score: 5

Pemaquid Point is pristinely preserved! All buildings on the property are well-kept, and repairs are ongoing. The town of Bristol and the Fishermen’s Museum are doing a fine job with the property.

Surrounding Area Score: 4

The ride from US-1 to the point of the peninsula is very enjoyable and has some great scenery.

The lighthouse is quite a trek from US-1, about 11 miles as you travel down the peninsula, but is so worth the trip. It is an extremely nice neighborhood with a lot of vegetation and well-kept homes.

Fort William Henry is also close to the lighthouse and might be worth a stop.

Accessibility Score: 4

As mentioned, inside the keeper’s house there is a four-room museum. Unfortunately, the light tower is not open for climbing.

In addition to the museum, the lighthouse grounds have an art gallery, and there is one of the best lighthouse gift shops associated with a lighthouse we have seen on the property right next door to the lighthouse. There is also a small restaurant attached to that gift shop that has great bay windows and lets you enjoy the view while you eat!

As a note of warning, the rocks below Pemaquid Point are open for climbing but really only meant for the agile. It is not an easy descent, but if you can make it down there you’ll get the best photo op’s available.

Also, there are advisories for waves that can come up suddenly and knock you off the rocks. When we were there we saw a few teen-agers get completely drenched. They were shocked!

The granite rocks are layered and almost take an a petrified wood appearance, it is very beautiful.

There is a $2.00 admission fee per person to the lighthouse grounds.

The one critique of this lighthouse is that the parking lot, never shown in pictures, comes within a few yards of the land side of the house, preventing a total sense of scenic area around the lighthouse and robbing you of a few great shots.

Beacon Score: 4

Pemaqid Point has a 4th order Fresnel lens that is active and flashes once every six seconds.

Overall Score and Overview: 30

Pemaquid Point is one of the greatest lighthouses in America! It is a place where you can spend three hours and it seems to go by in a flash!

The lighthouse really lends itself to beautiful picture-taking – although at the time you’re taking them, the picture-frame view seems cramped because of everything you are trying to capture. However, when you develop your pictures later you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

This lighthouse would be enjoyed more by active, agile people, but there is somethere here for everyone with the many buildings.

This lighthouse rivals Portland Head as the greatest Maine lighthouse, and rightly so! Make the trip – you will NEVER forget it!

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