We Saw the Light

Thursday, May 20, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Day 20:  Wells, ME to Portland, ME.  Although lighthouses are no longer essential to navigation in the age of radar and GPS, many groups have organized to restore and save lighthouses around the world. More than 60 lighthouses dot the Maine coast and they are popular and well-promoted attractions. With today's beautiful weather, we took the opportunity to visit some of these legendary icons. Most of the lighthouses on our agenda today were on islands and not open to the public.
One of the most well-known is the Cape Neddick, or Nubble, Lighthouse (pictured above), the southernmost in the state at York.  According to legend, the keeper of Nubble and his wife in 1912 decided to take advantage of the booming tourist business at the York beaches. They developed a lively business ferrying tourists across to the island and giving tours.  This sideline business grew so brisk that the light was neglected and the keeper was fired.  (Note the cable car which currently goes to and from the island, but only for "authorized personnel.")

A little farther up the coast we learned that in 1939, three college students with a passion for trolleys were distraught when they discovered that the local trolleys were to be replaced by buses. They scraped together $150 to buy one of the trolley cars and save it from the scrap heap. That car inspired the beginning of the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport. 
The museum today houses more than 260 vehicles.
The college boys' project has grown into the largest electric railway museum in the world with a collection representing almost every major American city that had a streetcar system, as well as some foreign vehicles. Restoration is a never-ending process as the collection grows. There's even a demonstration railway where visitors can ride on a restored trolley.

When he heard we would be visiting Maine, Dianne's Uncle Jim, who lived in the state for a time, highly recommended a visit to one of his favorite places.  South of Portland, Two Lights State Park is a 40-acre park offering unobstructed views of Casco Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  
Two Lights State Park
Two Lights also serves up crashing waves, stony cliffs, and massive ledges that resemble wood. Heat and pressure over millions of years have pressed brown and gray minerals together in a manner that uncannily resembles wood grain. In fact, many visitors to the park mistakenly think the rocks are actually petrified wood.

If the states were in a beauty pageant, Maine would surely have a lock on the Most Photogenic award. The most ordinary objects take on a charm and beauty. From a collection of birdhouses at a small flower shop in Ogunquit.
Cape Neddick flower shop
Lobster buoys displayed at York Harbor
  • Miles driven: 139
  • Letterboxes: 7 (plus 1 hitchhiker)
  • Lighthouses: 8
  • Cemeteries: 2
  • High temp: 78° F

Ram Island Lighthouse
Portland Head  Lighthouse
Nubble Lighthouse
Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse