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Original Photos of the 1886 Shipwreck That is Documented on Portland Head Light’s Rocks

On Christmas Eve in 1886 a three-masted vessel called Annie C. Maguire was bound for Portland Harbor when it ran ashore and shipwrecked on the rocks off Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth. Today, a painted rock visible from the light house commemorates the shipwreck and rescue of the Annie C. Maguire passengers and crew.

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The crew used a ladder to create a bridge between the ship and the rocks. The crew and passengers of the Annie C. Maguire were safe after their long journey from Buenos Aires, Argentina that ended on the rocks of Portland Head Light.

These photos were captured after the wreck in 1886, showing the vessel with it’s sails down and listing to one side.

The lighthouse keeper at the time was Joseph Strout. As the story goes, Joseph and his wife were there to help the crew and passengers ashore. They fed them dinner, kept them warm, and the family stayed at the lighthouse for three days. Joseph said in 1929:

A feller doesn’t get wrecked often, and when it happens where he can eat after starving for weeks, you can’t blame him for passing his plate until it’s all gone. Once they got that chicken pie into them, the whole gang wanted to stay.

Joseph Strout recalled the night to be snowy with low visibility, but others say the night was calm and quiet with no wind. It’s unclear what caused the ship to run ashore.

Still, the memorial on the rocks has been painted and updated since the wreck, with the words varying over the years. A wooden cross that once marked the point has vanished.

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