“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cape Elizabeth in Cumberland County, Maine — The American Northeast (New England)

Looking South

Cape Elizabeth

Looking South Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 18, 2011
1. Looking South Marker
[Header Information]
Hannaford Bros. Co.: The supermarket chain was founded in 1883 to sell the vegetables and fruits grown on a farm in Cape Elizabeth.

Farming: Cape Elizabeth-grown cabbage was considered the best in the state, bringing $10 a ton in the late 1880s.

Notable Former Residents: Bette Davis, actress; John Ford, film director; Dorothy Bush Koch, daughter of President George H. W. Bush; Gary Merrill, actor

Beckett Castle: Formerly owned by Colonel Walter Singles, who, when he was a professor at West Point, taught chemistry to cadets Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar S. Bradley.

Settled in 1632, Cape Elizabeth is a residential community of 10,000 people, situated on the southern shore of Casco Bay just south of Portland. In addition to Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth is home to two state parks: Crescent Beach State Park and Two Lights State Park.

Guardians of the Sea: The Lightship Service
From 1820, lightships - floating lighthouses - were placed off the coast as additional protection for ships. A light beacon high above water level operated from dusk to dawn. Lightships were built to withstand 70' seas and 100+ mph winds. Maine's only lightship was stationed off Portland Head Light from 1903 to 1975.

Total Average Snowfall
Ranges between
Looking South Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 18, 2011
2. Looking South Marker
60 and 90 inches a year.

Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper (1882-1967), considered one of America's greatest artists, is well known for both his paintings that captured the loneliness of American cities and those that conveyed the beauty of the American landscape. Beginning in 1914, Hopper regularly spent summers in New England, often visiting and painting at Portland Head Light. This picture is one of three oils and several watercolors that he did of this site during the summer of 1929. The website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art notes, "To Hopper, the lighthouse at Two Lights symbolized the solitary individual stoically facing the onslaught of change in an industrial society."

Joan Benoit Samuelson
Born in Cape Elizabeth, Benoit took to long-distance running to help recover from a broken leg suffered while skiing during her senior year of high school. She went on to excel in running at Bowdoin College, graduating in 1979. At the 1984 Summer Olympics she won the first Olympic women's marathon in a time of 2:24.52, more than a minute ahead of her rivals.

Beach to Beacon
In 1997, Joan Benoit Samuelson founded a 10-K road race that starts at Crescent Beach State Park and ends at Portland Head Light. It attracts over 5,000 runners and 10,000 spectators.

Early Cape Elizabeth
As early as 1529 Cape Elizabeth
Map on Looking South Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, undated
3. Map on Looking South Marker
appears as a nameless headland mapped by a Spanish cartographer. Seventy-five years later, Samuel de Champlain charted the promontory, but it was not until 1604, following exploration by John Smith, that the land was given its name, in honor of Princess Elizabeth, sister of Charles I of England.

Events of the years that followed make an intriguing story: the 1632 establishment of Richmond Island as a fishing and trading post; the struggles of settlers in small isolated groups as they began fishing and farming; conflicts between settlers and the region's Native Americans; occasional pirating from the seas; the Revolutionary War.

Local Shipwrecks
The Annie C. Maguire was headed for Portland Harbor from Buenos Aires, Argentina, when it hit the rocks at Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth on December 24, 1886. The shipwreck is memorialized on the rocks below the lighthouse.

The Annie C. Maguire may have been the most celebrated shipwreck at Portland Head, but there have been others nearby, including:
Bohemian, 1864
Bay State, 1916
Oakley L. Alexander, 1947
Alton A, 1972

Bette Davis and Gary Merril
Gary Merrill was a film and television character actor whose credits included more than fifty feature films, a half-dozen mostly short-lived TV series, and dozens of
Hopper Painting on Looking South Marker image. Click for full size.
By Edward Hopper, 1929
4. Hopper Painting on Looking South Marker
The Lighthouse at Two Lights. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
TV guest appearances. In 1950, Gary married actress Bette Davis. They lived at "Witchway," a 14-room house on a 15-acre estate on the shore near Zeb Cove in Cape Elizabeth from 1953 to 1960.

Merrill died in 1990 at Falmouth, Maine, and is buried there in the Pine Grove Cemetery.

His epitaph reads:
"A self professed Mr. Do Nothing
who did everything for everybody."

Aid to Navigation: Red Light Returning
Lateral Aids to Navigation generally indicate on which side a vessel should pass when channels are entered from seaward. In the absence of a route leading from seaward, the conventional direction of buoyage, generally follows a clockwise direction around landmasses. The most important characteristic of an aid is its color. The "3R" rule, "Red Right Returning," is the essential rule of thumb for using the lateral system. This means that when entering one body of water from a larger body of water (i.e., returning to a harbor from a bay or sound), keep the red aids to starboard (right) side and green aids to port (left) side. In addition, each aid is numbered, and these numbers increase as entering from seaward.
(from The U.S. Coast Guard)

Life Saving Station
Volunteers trained in seamanship provided rescue service from the station located at Dyer Cove at Two Lights from the late 1890s to 1915, when the Coast
Buoy Illustration on Looking South Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, undated
5. Buoy Illustration on Looking South Marker
Guard took over. The Coast Guard base is now located at Ferry Village, South Portand.

Two Lights State Park
Two Lights State Park is a popular point of destination for Maine residents and the many visitors who enjoy the state's legendary rocky coast. Opened in 1961, the park encompasses 41 acres of rocky headlands. Standing high above the rolling surf, visitors have sweeping views of Casco Bay and the open Atlantic.

The park's name originated from the twin lighthouses located nearby at the end of Two Lights Road. Built in 1828, these were the first twin lighthouses on the coast of Maine. Although not open to the public, the eastern light is an active, automated light station, visible from 17 miles at sea. The western light ceased operation in 1924 and is now a private home. It was at one time the home of the actor Gary Merrill. One of these towers was the subject of Edward Hopper's famout painting, The Lighthouse at Two Lights.

Delano Park
This area was developed by a group of Portland businessmen in the late 1880s on farmland once owned by James Delano, the second keeper of Portland Head Light. Consisting of approximately 32 acres, many of the homes were designed by Portland architect John Calvin Stevens, best known for his shingle-style design.

Location. 43° 37.432′ N, 70° 12.674′ W. Marker is in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, in Cumberland County. Touch for map. Marker is on the hill, about 1000 feet WNW of Portland Head Light, in Fort Williams Park, off Shore Road. Marker is in this post office area: Cape Elizabeth ME 04107, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Looking East (here, next to this marker); Looking North (here, next to this marker); Battery Blair (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fort Williams (about 600 feet away); Civilian Conservation Corps (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Fort Williams (about 600 feet away); A Town Within A Town (about 600 feet away); CCC Headquarters (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cape Elizabeth.
Also see . . .
1. History of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. (Submitted on December 11, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Fort Williams Park. (Submitted on December 11, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. Notable Places
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 11, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 630 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 11, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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