SOUTH PORTLAND — Reaching the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse isn’t easy.

Visitors have to clamber over a 950-foot breakwater, avoiding all the cracks, and then climb up ladders and stairs to get to the top.

But it appears those who made the trip Saturday found the effort worthwhile.

“The walk itself is half the fun,” said Saundra Neperud of Missoula, Montana.

Hundreds of people were expected to stop by Spring Point, one of 23 lighthouses open Saturday for free tours as part of Maine Open Lighthouse Day. The event, in its seventh year, has drawn up to 18,000 visitors in the past. It is sponsored by the American Lighthouse Foundation in Owls Head, the Maine Office of Tourism and the U.S. Coast Guard

Only a few of the lighthouses – including Spring Point and Bug Light in South Portland and Portland Head at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth – can be reached on foot. Most required a boat ride to access.


The Spring Point lighthouse was built in 1897 to guide boats around the surrounding dangerous ledge. The lights, originally powered by kerosene, were electrified in 1934. The lighthouse was encircled by water until 1950, when construction began on the breakwater.

The Coast Guard continues to operate the light, but the structure is now owned and maintained by the Spring Point Ledge Light Trust, which opens it up weekends from May to early September. On Saturday the usual $5 entry fee was waived in honor of Open Lighthouse Day.

An international crowd showed up at Spring Point, many also planning visits to Portland Head Light and Bug Light.

Roland and Janette Buenter of Lucerne, Switzerland, were on a three-week coastal tour that started in New York City. They were re-creating the same trip a friend made a year ago before she died of cancer.

Stephen Sostaric of Merrillville, Indiana, and Dustin Scott of Bloomington, Illinois, said a lighthouse visit was a must-see on their whirlwind trip through northern New England.

“I have been interested in lighthouses since middle school,” said Sostaric.


Matt and Kayla Sheehan of Springview, Nebraska, took in Spring Light as part of their New England honeymoon. They said they couldn’t pass up the chance of visiting a Maine icon.

“We had never been in a lighthouse before, ” said Kayla Sheehan.

Maine has more lighthouses than any other state. Built long before the age of modern navigational aids such as radar and global positioning systems, the lighthouses guided mariners along Maine’s treacherous rocky coastline. At the turn of the 20th century there were about 70 lighthouses in operation in Maine. Today 65 of the structures remain.

Peter and Karin Debruin of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, also visited Bug Light and Portland Head lighthouses before heading north to Bar Harbor.

“Maine was on our bucket list,” Karin Debruin said.

Gregory Mann of Lisbon – the one in Maine – said he has been a longtime fan of lighthouses. He built a lighthouse mailbox that was hit by snowplows so often he erected a swing mechanism so he can move it out of the way if there is snow in the forecast.

Mann said he came to appreciate lighthouses during his 22 years in the Navy.

“They come in handy when you are coming into port,” Mann said.


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