The area of Cape Elizabeth was named by Captain John Smith, in honor of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King James I and Queen Anne of Denmark. The first pair of lighthouses were built in 1827. The west light was first discontinued in 1855 by the Lighthouse Board, but was later reestablished. In 1855, a fresnel lens was installed.
In 1874 the original Two Lights were replaced by new 67-foot cast-iron towers 300 yards apart, with second order Fresnel Lenses. The west light was discontinued again in 1882, but relit after complaints that the light was being confused with nearby Wood Island Light.
Both towers have been white since 1902, and in 1924, the west light was permanently discontinued, when the government mandated all twin light stations be reduced to single lights. The east light was automated in 1963.
The Cape Elizabeth Light is visible for 27 NM, and is the most powerful on the New England coast, at four million candle power. Its characteristic is a white light that produces four flashes every 15 seconds.
(The East Light (left) is still an active Aid to Navigation, while the West Light (right) is not.
The East Light and Fog Station
Distant view of Cape Elizabeth Lights, from Portland Head Light
Return to the State of Maine Lights Page