Land’s End: Remembering Russell Porter

pillar cHead for the lighthouse on the Marshall Point Road in Port Clyde and you will pass through a set of fieldstone pillars. A bronze plaque on the right-hand pillar reads ‘Land’s End 1906.’

Land’s End is the name Russell W. Porter gave to the 50-acre tract just north of the lighthouse that he bought from fisherman Alfred H. Marshall that year. Porter, 34, was an Arctic explorer and artist, who had come to Port Clyde to settle down. He hoped to start an art colony—his plan for the venture can be seen at the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum.

Porter married Marshall’s daughter, Alice Belle, who was the Port Clyde postmistress. The colony never materialized, but Porter, who had trained as an architect, went ahead and built 14 cottages on the lots he had laid out on paper. First maintaining them as rentals, he finally sold them to buyers wanting summer homes.

Porter was an avid astronomer and in 1911 built an observatory on his Land’s End property. Next he built his own telescope, adding a second observatory to his house (the old Marshall farmhouse). His enthusiasm for the construction of telescopes eventually earned him an invitation to join the team that created and erected the Hale 200-inch telescope on Mount Palomar in California.

Ironically, another artist/astronomer, Greg Mort, purchased the Porter property in 1988. The drive leading in is called ‘The Milky Way.’

(For more on Porter see Russell W. Porter: Arctic Explorer, Artist, Telescope Maker by Berton C. Willard, The Bond Wheelwright Company, 1976)      — JW

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