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Visiting the coastal cities of New England offers a unique glimpse into America’s founding, its economy and its character. These former colonies still retain much of their historical elements, and a great way for travelers to get a glimpse into this past is by touring its many famous lighthouses.
A visit to Boston Harbor brings vacationers to the oldest lighthouse station in the United States, established in 1716. The white Boston Light tower -- destroyed by the Revolution and rebuilt in 1783 -- houses a cannon in its base; this was the first fog signal. Some cruise lines offer shore excursions including a harbor cruise, presenting guests with a unique view of the lighthouse as well as other city landmarks.
The jagged coastline of Maine is also dotted with these iconic structures, some dating back more than 200 years. In Portland, travelers can visit the Bug Light, made of cast iron and brick, and established in 1855. The Liberty Ship Memorial is also here, dedicated to the ships built here during World War II. Nearby Cape Elizabeth hosts another beacon worth visiting, Portland Head Light, was first lit with whale oil lamps in 1791, but roughly 15 years earlier soldiers were posted on this site to warn of British attacks.
Stories surround every lighthouse on the East Coast. From Nantucket’s Brant Point Light, erected due to the town’s expanding whaling industry to New York’s beloved Statue of Liberty, where Lady Liberty’s torch served as a navigational guide in its early years. The torchlight -- standing 305 feet above sea level and lit by electric lamps -- could be seen for more than twenty miles out to sea. For vacationers, with each lighthouse visit, new revelations unfold about this historic stretch of New England, America’s birthplace.