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Portland Observatory surveys history and the sea

From the top of the 86-foot-tall Portland Observatory, the view (below) sweeps across Casco Bay.
From the top of the 86-foot-tall Portland Observatory, the view (below) sweeps across Casco Bay.photos by David Lyon for The Boston Globe

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PORTLAND, Maine — Historic sites remind us of how far we have come, and the Portland Observatory is certainly a case in point. In 1807, when former sea captain Lemuel Moody built the tower on Munjoy Hill, “sight was the main means of communication,” guide Judy Carll told a small group of cellphone-toting tourists, “and just about every seacoast city had a signal tower.”

Sitting among the cow pastures on the high east end of the Portland peninsula, the 86-foot-tall tower stood 160 feet above Casco Bay and had a clear view from the harbor out to the Atlantic Ocean.

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