If you’re from New England, you may already know this place because it hosts 100,000 visitors per year. If not, then you may be missing out on one of Maine’s most iconic and photogenic locations.
The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is nice but this place is so much more than just a historic structure: it’s an exceptional setting on the beautiful and rugged coast of Maine.
The lighthouse sits on a rock ledge that plunges toward the crashing surf, overlooking spectacular rock formations dating back 300-400 million years. To top it off, the rock layers alternate in color, twisted and distorted by geologic forces like a circus hall of mirrors.
The original tower and keeper’s house on Pemaquid Point were commissioned by John Quincy Adams and erected in 1827. But due to a poor choice of building materials, the tower soon began to crumble and had to be rebuilt in 1835. The present keeper’s house replaced the original building in 1857.
Pemaquid Point Light sits inside Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park, which is operated by the Town of Bristol (charging a seasonal daytime fee). The keeper’s house functions as a Fishermen’s Museum containing displays and artifacts of the lighthouse and maritime history.
The lighthouse tower itself is managed and maintained by Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. The tower is open to visitors from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, weather permitting.
Pemaquid Point Light is such a popular place that, in 2003, Maine citizens voted to use its likeness on the State quarter. Its beacon can be seen 14 nautical miles out to sea.
BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH
Due to its southern orientation, Pemaquid Point Light can be photographed at both sunrise and sunset, although I usually come at sunrise to avoid getting park visitors in my frame. The accompanying photo was taken shortly before sunrise on a glorious morn in June.
There are countless compositions possible, some with and others without the lighthouse structure. The stereotypical image of this place includes a reflection of the lighthouse in a tidal pool along the variegated rocks, but I suggest that you put your own spin on this highly photogenic place.
This is also a fabulous location for star and Milky Way photography, especially over the summer months. Maine-based photographer Mike Taylor of Taylor Photography regularly hosts astrophotography workshops here for those who aspire to photograph the night sky.
GETTING TO PEMAQUID LIGHT
Pemaquid Point Light is located in Bristol, some 12 miles and 20 minutes past the Town of Damariscotta. From Damariscotta, head south on State Route 130 (aka Bristol Road) and follow it to the end.
The 1st danger to photographers here is the rocks. These rocks are layered, ragged, and uneven so step very carefully. Also, avoid wet rocks lubricated by tidal waters as they can be very slippery.
The 2nd hazard is the dangerous surf. The waves here are unforgiving, exacerbated by a deadly undertow. A plunge in these waters can be deadly, as occasional news reports attest. So be sure to stay away from the edge of the water, safe from the reach of rogue waves.