Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Maine lighthouses

I recently did a swap with Erin from the USA, she was on holiday in Maine and had loads of postcards from there. Maine looks like a particularly beautiful US state, one that I would probably quite like as well. The postcards I received from her included these two lighthouse cards:

The first postcard shows Portland Head Light, a historic lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Its construction began in 1787 at the directive of George Washington, and was completed on January 10, 1791.

In 1787, while Maine was still part of the state of Massachusetts, George Washington engaged two masons from the town of Portland, Jonathan Bryant and John Nichols, and instructed them to take charge of the construction of a lighthouse on Portland Head. Washington reminded them that the colonial government was poor and that the materials used to build the lighthouse should be taken from the fields and shores. They could be handled nicely when hauled by oxen on a drag, he said.

The station has changed little except for the rebuilding of the whistle house in 1975 due to it being badly damaged in a storm. Today, Portland Head Light stands 80 feet above ground and 101 feet above water, its white conical tower being connected with a dwelling. The grounds, and keeper's house are owned by the town of Cape Elizabeth, while the beacon, tower and fog signal are owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard as a current aid to navigation.

The second postscard shows Nubble Light, also known as Cape Neddick Light. It is located in Cape Neddick, York, Maine. In 1874 Congress appropriated $15,000 to build a light station at the "Nubble" and in 1879 construction began. Cape Neddick Light Station was dedicated by the U.S. Lighthouse Service and put into use in 1879. It is still in use today.

Nubble Light is a famous American icon and a classic example of a lighthouse. The Voyager spacecraft, which carries photographs of Earth’s most prominent man made structures and natural features should it fall into the hands of intelligent extraterrestrials, includes a photo of Nubble Light with images of the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

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