The jetty has always been a crowd-pleaser, but today, we got to climb a ladder into the lighthouse.
Located on the breakwater at Southern Maine Community College, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse is the only caisson-style light station in the United States that visitors can walk to. Not only can you walk to it - you can also go inside! There are so many thrills to be had in this life.
If you were wondering, a caisson lighthouse (also referred to as a sparkplug lighthouse, or bug light) is a type of lighthouse whose superstructure rests on a concrete or metal caisson. Although the lighthouse was built in 1897, the breakwater leading to this lighthouse wasn't built until 1951. This lighthouse was once surrounded by water and only accessible by boat. We learned this after seeing some old photographs on the interior walls of the lighthouse.
The United States Coast Guard maintains the light and fog signal, but transferred ownership of the lighthouse structure to the Spring Point Ledge Light Trust in 1998. The Trust is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) public charity committed to the preservation of the lighthouse. They now lead tours of the lighthouse on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00am to 1:00pm, which I only recently learned about from another Longfellow parent who volunteers here.
Until she told me about it, I'd walked the jetty many times without knowing there was anything else to explore here. As soon as I learned about the lighthouse tours, I made a plan to bring my campers.
Parking closest to the lighthouse is at the end of Fort Road in South Portland. If you have trouble finding parking in the circle near the path leading to the gift shop & ticket booth, you can park in any of the SMCC student lots. The cost of admission to the lighthouse is $5 per person, which you can pay in the small gift shop on the right as you head towards the breakwater. A tour guide will meet you at the ladder leading up to the lighthouse. The ladder, that is a bit sketchy to climb, but you can do it.
There is a height requirement of 51 inches to do this tour, which luckily, my campers all passed. Once you've made it up the ladder to the first level, the guide will lead you into the main galley, which was the social center of the lighthouse. There are antiques displayed here, including the old coal stove.
From here, you will take the spiral staircase to the second level where the head keeper's quarters were. Followed by some more climbing...
Cozy views from tiny round windows...
And stellar views from the top. We even got to ring the original fog horn bell with a sledge hammer. It's displayed at the top level of the lighthouse.
Once you've finished your tour and made your way safely down the ladder, head over to Willard Beach, or one of the smaller beaches along the way for some swimming. There are also plenty of forts to explore here...a full days worth of adventure.
Here's all the info you need to visit: https://springpointledgelight.org/visit/
And I hope you do!