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 American Lighthouse Foundation, Inc.

P.O. Box 565

Rockland, Maine 04841

Phone: 207-594-4174


The American Lighthouse  Foundation is a  Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Organization dedicated  to the preservation of America's historic lighthouses.






Portland Head Light’s History

Saved In New Book



Although Portland Head Light may be the most visited, photographed and well-known lighthouse in the United States, very few people know of the amazing stories and rich history of the historic structure.


However, that has now changed with the release of the new book, Portland Head Light, A Pictorial Journey Through Time, written and compiled by Timothy Harrison,

Portland Head Light

Buy it Now

from ALF!


president of the Maine based nonprofit American Lighthouse Foundation.


Harrison, who has been collecting historical information on Maine’s lighthouses for years, said, “Although this book was a labor of love, it was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. You can’t just go to a file cabinet and pull all the images and history out. I needed to be a detective of sorts to locate many of the images and stories. Thankfully, they have now been saved and shared in one book that will preserve the history of this icon of Maine for future generations.”


Fortunately, Harrison was able to get a lot of help from a number of people including descendants of the Strout family who kept the light at


Harrison and Sterling Featured

 on TV for New Book


Amy Sinclair interview

Photo by Kathleen Finnegan    


ALF president Timothy Harrison, and

 his new book, “Portland Head Light, A

Pictorial Journey Through Time,” was recently featured on an evening segment

 of the Portland Maine, CBS TV news

with reporter Amy Sinclair.


The interview, taped appropriately at Portland Head Light, also included an interview with John Sterling, grandson

of Robert T. Sterling, the last official

keeper of the United States Lighthouse Service to serve at Portland Head Light, who provided many of the historical photographs of his family that appear

in the book.

Amy Sinclair & John Sterling

Photo by Kathleen Finnegan    


Portland Head Light for three generations, and John Sterling, the grandson of Robert T. Sterling, the last official United States Lighthouse Service keeper to serve at Portland Head Light. Other rare photos came from the collection of Shirley Morong, wife of a Maine lighthouse keeper, who saved and documented their friendships with many of Maine’s lighthouse families.


Jeremy D’Entremont, a noted New England lighthouse historian and author who maintains lighthouse web sites, couldn’t agree more, saying, “I loved the wide variety of fascinating photos of the structures at Portland Head Light.  There are many rare photos that I have never seen before and stories that I read for the first time.”


Harrison said that although he believes historians will love the book, the real challenge was how to make the book appealing to Mainers and tourists alike,


especially since the book was published to help raise money for the lighthouse preservation projects of the American Lighthouse Foundation. Kathleen Finnegan, who designed the layout for the book, said she believes that goal was accomplished. John Sterling agreed with her saying, “The pictures, the format and the history is set up so a wide range of people will enjoy it.”


Jeanne Gross, Director of The Museum at Portland Head Light concurred with Finnegan and Sterling, saying, “For many, the book will be a elightful introduction to Portland Head Light and will complement the exhibits in the museum with wonderful stories and photographs of the keepers, families and even their pets.”


Bob Trapani, Jr., executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation added, “I was amazed at a glance how effectively the book’s vintage pictures blended with the contemporary color photos to bridge time and history at Portland Head Light. The reader’s attention will be grabbed by the book’s fascinating photos and then captured by the accompanying accounts that wonderfully complement the volume.”


“The station at Portland Head Light has changed dramatically over the years, something that few people realize when visiting it and now they can see the changes in the photographs compiled in this fascinating book,” said Harrison.


Harrison went on to point out the many color images showing the different colors of shingles and trim used over the years on the keeper’s


house. In addition there are photos of the tower at various stages of height, buildings that were replaced, and even photos of when the tower was brown during a 1950’s restoration. The book also features many images of how Portland Head Light was used by businesses and corporations in the promotion of various

Tim Harrison

Photo by Kathleen FInnegan     

Tim Harrison delivers the first books

to Portland Head Light


products and services over the years. Also included are information on movies that were filmed at the lighthouse, images of vintage postcards and even how Portland Head Light was used in the mail.


The book also includes heartwarming stories about the pets of the keepers, an eerie account of a sea serpent, a destructive tidal wave, as

well as the supernatural and naturally there are chapters on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Fort Williams. As an extra bonus the book includes chapters with vintage and contemporary photos of the lighthouses nearby with historical information on each of them.


Although everyone loves the architectural aspects and other unique history associated with Portland Head Light, the one common theme everyone stressed is that without the lighthouse keepers and their families, lighthouses were just buildings. D’Entremont went on to say, “The people brought the structures to life, and it’s important that we remember them now since traditional lighthouse keeping is fading into history. This book is a wonderful tribute to the colorful personalities that lived for more than two centuries at Portland Head Light.”


Sterling agreed, saying, “I am touched and honored that my grandfather Robert T. Sterling is such a large part of the book. It is very meaningful to share with others and have others value our family’s rich heritage to Portland Head Light and the coast of Maine, something that might otherwise have been lost in time.”


According to Harrison, the nonprofit group needed to come up with new ways to raise public awareness for their lighthouse preservation projects


 Harrison Interviewed Live

 on Radio-TV


Richardson & Talbot Fox interview

Photo by Kathleen Finnegan     

Tim is shown here in the middle, with

program hosts Ray Richardson seated to

the left and Ted Talbot standing.


Tim Harrison, president of the American Lighthouse Foundation was recently interviewed on Maine’s radio station

WLOB, which was also simultaneously broadcast live on Fox 23 TV about his

new book on Portland Head.


The interview went into two segments,

which was about a total of twenty

minutes  on the air, which is an identity

in broadcast time.


Naturally the interview centered on the Portland Head Light book but also

developed into helping promote our

lighthouse preservation efforts.


to enable them to obtain donations for many lesser-known lighthouses that need restoration and immediate care. They hope this book will be a catalyst for that ambition


Trapani went on to say, “It was important to have this book published because lighthouse preservation is not generally on the radar screen of the public, yet countless thousands of locals and tourists journey to a historic site like Portland Head Light each year to find that all elusive element of relaxation or to add another special memory to their family’s vacation.”


He continued, “If we are to make the public more aware of the plight of many of our other lighthouses, there is no better place to start than by introducing people to


the fragile magnificence of lighthouses and their rich history and how they can help make a difference than through the pages of this book on Portland Head Light.”


The American Lighthouse Foundation currently has twenty-two lighthouses that need restoration and ongoing maintenance. The group also owns and operates the nonprofit Museum of Lighthouse History, which strives to create educational benefits for school children as well as adults.


The new book, Portland Head Light, A Pictorial Journey Through Time, is currently available from the Museum of Lighthouse History, in Wells. The book is also available through our web site, or by calling 207-646-0245.


Posted 6/28/06




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