A nondescript gravel road leads to a quaint old stubby lighthouse on the furthest point east in Maine, and indeed the whole of the United States. West Quoddy Head is now a state park and small museum, but it has also served as a lookout on the coast of Maine since 1808. And during the spring and fall equinoxes, this site is the first place in the U.S. to see the morning sun.
The current lighthouse on the point was built in 1858 and features an original and unique third-order Fresnel lens that can reach up to 18 miles offshore. The attractive red-and-white-striped tower is only 49 feet tall and made of brick. The lighthouse was one of the first to use a fog bell in addition to the light, and was later changed out to a steam-powered foghorn.
The station was automated in 1988 and is currently monitored by the US Coast Guard, so there is no longer a need for a lighthouse keeper; the Coast Guard keeps the light lit 24/7. The lower part of the lighthouse has been turned into a museum and welcomes visitors. It is usually staffed by a member of the West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association who is eager for visitors and can tell you as much history as the casual person would care to know.
The 532-acre state park that surrounds the lighthouse offers hiking and several miles of trails, and activities like whale watching and nature walks.
Know Before You Go
Seasonally open during these hours: Memorial Day to July 7: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 7 to Labor Day: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Labor day to Oct. 15: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tower itself is generally closed to visitors but the museum on the first floor welcomes tourists. Special tours are given at points during the summer. Call or check the website for additional information.