Route 1 to Portland

On the road once again, we left Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island and pointed the car south on Route 1, the historic predecessor to Interstate 95.

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It’s just two lanes in most places and winds its way through the many small towns and way-stations that grew up along it but no longer depend on it the way they once did.

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The same story holds true for many of the small farms that don’t fit into the corporate scale of agribusiness as it’s currently practiced.

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I hadn’t truly realized, before this trip, how much the Maine coast is fractured into long fingers that stick out into the Atlantic. Communities along this coast tended to form around the points where rivers flowed into the inlets between these fingers, places where flatter land and fresh water could be combined for agriculture, and where lumber and ship-building businesses could safely thrive. The major north-south roads and railroads stayed inside these inlets as well, as you can see on the map below where I marked our route in red.

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Since each inlet was typically fed by a river or stream, keeping the road inland generally meant that it could cross the rivers with shorter bridges. In a few cases though, the rivers were large enough that real money had to be spent. One of these was at the Penobscot River, leading from the ocean to Bangor. An earlier bridge there has been replaced with a two-pylon cable-stayed bridge, for an elegant crossing.

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We had to get a bit past the bridge to truly appreciate its delicate form. And from this viewpoint we could also see a bit downstream.

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It’s tough country in which to be cutting stone and building roads and bridges.

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It took plenty of blasting to cut the nose off this mountain enough to fit the road in.

Shortly after this drama we arrived in Belfast where we were aiming for coffee breakfast at the Chase’s Daily restaurant which my brother had recommended.

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Located at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River estuary on Belfast Bay and Penobscot Bay, Belfast is the county seat of Waldo County. The seaport has a wealth of antique architecture in several historic districts.

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Wikipedia photo

Getting to this point, though, has been a tumultuous process. The area was once territory of the Penobscot tribe of Abenaki Native Americans, which each summer visited the seashore to hunt for fish, shellfish and seafowl. In 1630, it became part of the Muscongus Patent, which granted rights for English trading posts with the Native Americans, especially for the lucrative fur trade. About 1720, General Samuel Waldo of Boston bought the Muscongus Patent, which had evolved into outright ownership of the land, and was thereafter known as the Waldo Patent. Waldo died in 1759, and his heirs would sell the plantation of Passagassawakeag (named after its river) to 35 Scots-Irish proprietors from Londonderry, New Hampshire. Renamed Belfast after Belfast, Northern Ireland, it was first settled in 1770, and incorporated as a town in 1773. The village was mostly abandoned during the Revolution while British forces occupied Bagaduce (now Castine). The British military burned Belfast in 1779, then held it for five days in September 1814 during the War of 1812.

Following the war, it developed into a shipbuilding center, producing hundreds of three, four and five-masted schooners. Materials for wooden boat construction were shipped down the Penobscot River from Bangor, the lumber capital of North America during the later 19th century. Wealth was invested in substantial buildings.

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Wood ship construction petered out about 1900 but with the advent of refrigeration the economy shifted to harvesting seafood for east coast markets. After World War II, however, the Belfast economy was driven by its poultry industry, including 2 of the state’s larger processors, Maplewood and Penobscot Poultry. Waldo County farms supplied the factories with up to 200,000 birds a day. The annual Broiler Festival became a popular summer event, attracting both local people and tourists.

In true boom and bust fashion, the poultry business collapsed in the mid-1970s during a national recession, devastating the city and surrounding towns. In the early 1980s, the defunct chicken-feed silos at the foot of Main Street, that once fed millions of chickens, were demolished. There was an exodus of people seeking employment prospects elsewhere. In the early 1990s, credit-card giant MBNA established two facilities in Belfast, and Jobs provided by MBNA, which was recently acquired by the Bank of America, helped increase Belfast’s population significantly. Finally, in true circular fashion, in 1996, shipbuilding was re-established on the Belfast waterfront with the opening of French & Webb, Inc., classic wooden yacht builders and restorers. Following in their footsteps, Front Street Shipyard opened a major boatyard on the Belfast Bay in 2013. Together, the two boat-building companies have restored Belfast’s working waterfront and helped revive the city economy as well as appeal to tourists, like us.

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Along with that sort of transition comes a certain amount of shopping-oriented things that, if you think about it, you don’t really need. But the presentation was hand-some.

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It’s also a pleasant environment for just walking and sightseeing.

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One consistent clue that reveals on-going gentrification is the addition of creative signage. I’m in favor of this graphic type of retail signage – it has a long historic lineage.

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It did seem a bit odd to see a Cape Cod style house lifted atop a masonry base.

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We were also glad to catch up with a bit of fall color.

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It’s hard to tell without research what’s original below; but it looks as if third floors have been added to historic two-story buildings. They’re generally successful; but they show how much a seemingly minor detail like a balcony railing – on the left – can affect an historic roof line in an unfortunate way.

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Here’s a real fall window box.

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Our coffee stop was definitely a nice road-warrior break.

After another drive we stopped for a quick lunch break in Bath, Maine, county seat of Sagadahoc County and a real river-front town. Abenaki Indians called the area Sagadahoc, meaning “mouth of big river.” It was a reference to the Kennebec River.

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I’m not sure what the road-planning choices were for this bridge and viaduct; but they blast a giant hole through the center of the community, not to mention the noise and pollution they leave behind. I suspect that it was simply a case of building the new bridge in the same place as the old one as the obvious solution. At least, along the riverfront below, there’s a pretty nice pedestrian park.

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The city is home to the Bath Iron Works and Heritage Days Festival, held annually on the Fourth of July weekend. It is commonly known as “The City of Ships.”

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Several industries developed in the city, including lumber, iron and brass, with trade in ice and coal. But Bath is renowned for shipbuilding, which began here in 1743 when Jonathan Philbrook and his sons built 2 vessels. Since then, roughly 5,000 vessels have been launched in the area, which at one time had more than 200 shipbuilding firms. Bath became the nation’s fifth largest seaport by the mid-19th century, producing clipper ships that sailed to ports around the world.

But the most famous shipyard is the Bath Iron Works, founded in 1884 by Thomas W. Hyde who also became the general manager of it in 1888. It has built hundreds of wooden and steel vessels, mostly warships for the U.S. Navy. During World War II, Bath Iron Works launched a new ship an average of every 17 days. The shipyard is a major regional employer and operates today as a division of the General Dynamics Corporation.

None of this really shows near the center of town where small pleasures suffice.

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Past and present wealth and civic commitment have resulted in a well-built and generally well cared-for downtown – including the City Hall.

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Bath City Hall

Our next stop was in Freeport – or rather at the real place everyone goes to in Freeport, the L. L. Bean outfitters store. L.L.Bean was founded in 1912 by its namesake, hunter and fisherman Leon Leonwood Bean.

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L. L. Bean convincing a customer

The company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe (also known as duck boots). Bean had developed a waterproof boot, which is a combination of lightweight leather uppers and rubber bottoms, that he sold to hunters. He obtained a list of nonresident Maine hunting license holders, prepared a descriptive mail order circular, set up a shop in his brother’s basement in Freeport and started a nationwide mail-order business. By 1912, he was selling the Bean Boot, or Maine Hunting Shoe, through a four-page mail-order catalog, and the boot remains a staple of the company’s outdoor image. Defects in the initial design led to 90 percent of the original production run being returned: Bean made good on his money-back guarantee, corrected the design, and continued selling them.

The current business is a long way from that basement beginning, comprising a multiple building campus with each building focused on different types of merchandise.

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They haven’t forgotten their beginnings, though, and those duck boots create a popular focal point next to one of the entrances.

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Selfie heaven !

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The basic store seems like most suburban department stores, this department featuring their well-know canvas carry bags.

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On the other hand, some of the details add uniqueness to the experience, celebrating both the wildlife (that you’re going to hunt) and letting you put your hands on both tools of the outdoors and crustaceans.

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The connections between buildings softened the barn scale of the architecture with smaller scale elements such as porches.

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These elements were also used to create welcoming entrances – and at the same time keep snow from drifting up against the buildings in the winter.

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In this case, the crustacean doors led to a home improvements store, where along with furniture and fittings, you could also buy bedding and map-of-Maine quilts.

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After this respite we made one last, relatively short drive to Portland and the West End Inn where we would spend the night. More about that next time.

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Acadia National Park – Loop Drive

Courtesy of Wikipedia, here is a bit of history about the park:

Acadia National Park is a United States national park located in the state of Maine, southwest of Bar Harbor. The park reserves much of Mount Desert Island and associated smaller islands along the Atlantic coast. Initially created as the Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916, the park was renamed and re-designated Lafayette National Park in 1919, and then renamed once more as Acadia National Park in 1929. Over three million people visited the park in 2016.

The area was originally inhabited by the Wabanaki people – see my post on the ABBE Museum and Wabanaki people here.

While he was sailing down the coast of what is now Maine on 5 September 1604, Samuel de Champlain observed a large inshore island. He wrote:

“That same day we also passed near an island about four or five leagues [19 to 24 km] in length, off which we were almost lost on a little rock, level with the surface of the water, which made a hole in our pinnace close to the keel. The distance from this island to the mainland on the north is not a hundred paces. It is very high and cleft in places, giving it the appearance from the sea of seven or eight mountains one alongside the other. The tops of them are bare of trees, because there is nothing there but rocks. The woods consist only of pines, firs, and birches.”

He named it Mount Desert Island, shown below, with the park area shown in green.

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The portion outlined below in red is the most-visited part of the park; and the red line itself represents the drive we took through this part – going clockwise.

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The beginning of the loop took us past a small lake, almost domestic in scale.

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These views also illustrate clearly that these are rolling mountains of modest elevation and not sharp peaks towering over the landscape.

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Within those rolling shapes there has been a lot of granite under pressure.

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The forms speak clearly of layers and movement; and plants and trees have to be able to cling to the results in order to thrive.

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On the map our route appears to simply wind along the shore; but in fact it winds up and down as well, giving a broader overview and revealing one of the oddities of the area.

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The national park does not control all the land on Mount Desert Island; so there are quite a number of locations where private property and the park merge in ways that are hard to discern. The private homes, on the other hand, are pretty easy to discern – especially since they have intentionally been placed in open spots to take advantage of the view.

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It’s hard not to have mixed feelings about this, especially since most of these homes are often not used at all for a good part of the year.

At various points, some large, some small, small parking lots and fenced walkways have been built along the road to provide access to the shore.

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As we are well aware in the Northwestern states, crowds in popular sites require management, to prevent random trail creation, undue erosion of sensitive soils, and hiking challenges for those unfamiliar with being out in the forest.

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The park service is good about giving both an overview of the setting and tips and warnings about both safety and potential for damage to the environment.

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The built environment combines a sturdy infrastructure that can stand up to wind and waves and tourists, with a use of simple, natural materials that can weather in concert with the forest and the rocks around them.

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Another sign explains the beach where you have landed,

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and gives some understanding of the dramatic coastline on which you’ve arrived.

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The beach provides easy walking; but exploring here also has very clear limits. Even if you want to try out your parkour skills here, you have to watch out for the incoming tide that can put a quick end to your adventuring.

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We backtracked up the path to the road,

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Where an opening in the trees revealed a view of Cadillac Mountain,

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and finally (this being mid October) a sampling of fall color.

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I believe that the way in which the roads open up the tree canopy makes it easier for the deciduous trees to get more sun and also respond more readily to the change of season.

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At another stopping point, we decided to see what the excitement of the “blowhole” was all about. The configuration of rocks here has been sculpted by the constant wave action.

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In places the rock has been undercut and opened up so that when strong waves come ashore they sweep in under the rock and get ejected up through the openings. As you can see in the photo above, it’s been necessary to build a concrete walkway and steel railings to keep people from being hurt or swept away. Of course on a warm sunny calm day, the picture is somewhat simpler.

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No cannonball blasts of salt water for us – but not a bad view from the platform.

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Down the road another short distance we came to a bay (and in the distance you can see another private home).

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This bay dipped in to a cove with a causeway with arched openings beneath it that drained a nearby lake – located in the “Heart of Acadia”.

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This wooded, relatively level part of the park occurs at the bottom of a valley on the west side of Cadillac Mountain

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While still rocky here, the landscape has a smaller, more intimate scale. People were picnicking and hiking the relatively flat trail that looped around the lake.

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Another lake was attached to the first one. It had similar features.

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The information panel below explains a bit about the setting and shows from the air essentially the same view of the photo above.

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We didn’t stop at the Jordan Pond House or ride in a carriage, though apparently stopping for tea and a stroll here are popular things to do. We were headed for the top of Cadillac Mountain to take in the view. It turned out to be a different kind of adventure.

Visiting the top of the mountain sits at the top of everyone’s list; so we joined a long, slow line of cars and buses winding its way back and forth up the rocky west side of the mountain. We discovered that there are no facilities at the top (eg, no lodge) and, given the demand, not any too much parking. So on our first pass we looped by the high point and back to the west side where we found a place to drop the car. Luckily, the views from the west side were worth it. Here are a couple:

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Mounted on a rock in this area was a centennial plaque honoring the formation of the park by private citizens in 1916.

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Everywhere in the park there’s an underlying sense of how man is changing the basic environment and habitats in places like Acadia – through actions in this case that took place initially in the midwest. Note that there are TWO pictures below, the lower one showing how much you can’t see when air pollution from power generation in the midwest makes its way this far north and east and condenses in the cooler air here.

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Of course, tourists bring some of it with them (as did we in our car)

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Below is a panel showing features of the mountain. The road ends in a big loop with parking strung out along the road. It’s not a horrible situation – just one that can’t keep up with the volume of visitors.

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Finally we got to look around at the top – this view to the east.

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Here’s a look back at Bar Harbor – note that the most striking elements are the large white cruise ships sitting off shore.

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People wandered out into the landscape – it’s hard to resist.

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It’s hard to see all the islands when you’re there unless you have a telescope.

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Below you can see the cove and causeway we passed on the way around the park.

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Here is a view to the west that gives a sense of the islands.

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and finally, a presentation of how much life there actually is up here –

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and a sense of the struggle to maintain it when tourism season, construction season and fall coincide so precisely.

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Next stop – down the Maine coast to Portland

 

 

 

 

Bar Harbor – ABBE Museum

Inspiring new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit

“The Abbe Museum will reflect and realize the values of decolonization in all of its practices, working with the Wabanaki Nations to share their stories, history, and culture with a broader audience”. We entered not knowing what to expect.

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The Abbe Museum was founded in 1926 and first opened to the public in 1928. (Much of the following information comes from the museum’s website.)

The museum is named for its founder, Dr. Robert Abbe (1851-1928), an eminent New York physician known for his pioneering use of radiation therapy.

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Dr. Robert Abbe (1851-1928)

A beloved summer resident of Bar Harbor, during the 1920s Dr. Abbe assembled a collection of early Native American artifacts found in the Frenchman Bay area. He persuaded others with similar collections to join him in establishing a museum that would protect these objects and display them for public education and enjoyment. Early supporters included George B. Dorr, “the father of Acadia,” and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

The museum opened as a private museum at Sieur de Monts Spring in Lafayette National Park (later renamed Acadia National Park) on August 14, 1928. It was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Abbe, who had died in March of that year.

The museum opened as a private museum at Sieur de Monts Spring in Lafayette National Park (later renamed Acadia National Park) on August 14, 1928. It was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Abbe, who had died in March of that year.

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By the 1990s, the Abbe’s 2,000-square-foot museum at Sieur de Monts Spring had become inadequate to house the growing collections and provided no space for indoor programs, changing exhibitions, or research. Because of its location, it could only operate seasonally. In 1997, the Abbe purchased the former YMCA building in downtown Bar Harbor.

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The Abbe opened its downtown museum on September 29, 2001, with permanent and changing exhibitions including the major installation of Wabanaki: People of the Dawn. All exhibitions at the Abbe are accompanied by a variety of educational programs for adults and families. The Abbe downtown location presents special programs for school groups designed to meet the objectives of Maine Learning Results. It serves the community year-round, while the trailside Abbe at Sieur de Monts Spring is open seasonally from mid-May to mid-October.

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People of the First Light, the Abbe Museum’s new core exhibit, introduces visitors to the Wabanaki universe, engaging them with the culture and history of a people that is unfamiliar to many. Bringing together oral traditions, personal stories, cultural knowledge, language, and historical accounts with objects, photographs, multi-media, and digital interactives, People of the First Light shares a wide variety of content and perspectives around more than 12,000 years of history, conflict, adaptation, and survival in the Wabanaki homeland. It begins by introducing the Wabanaki,

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and then the local tribes like the Passamaquoddy.

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As you can read above, the panel anchors the tribe in both its past and present locations. From these panels you can build up a sense of the larger region and also picture of some of the contemporary descendants.

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Here’s a map that ties all the tribes together. It’s a composite of Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia (including Cape Breton Island), and Prince Edward Island.

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For the Wabanaki, the circle represents the wholeness of life – and movement, especially, as noted below, the cycles of life.

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The exhibits attempt to present a sense of that wholeness.

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Masqewuloq – a Boat of Birchbark – 2013

The Reis Education Canoe was constructed on site at the Abbe Museum, the first birchbark canoe to be built on Mount Desert Island in over 100 years. It’s made of birchbark, spruce roots, cedar and maple. It took 200 hours just to gather the materials and 500 hours to do the actual construction. There was too much other material there to document all of it; but one room stood out.

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Abbe Museum Circle of the Four Directions

The Abbe Museum Circle of the Four Directions captures the importance of the circle to the Wabanaki people – as also expressed in symbols and their calendar.

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Naming the year by its moons, a common native tradition in many tribes

Needless to say this was a difficult space to photograph.

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The sloping top and clearstory windows added a lot of drama.

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The exhibits seemed a bit accidentally displayed; but the work was gorgeous.

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I did make a trip out behind the museum to see the form from the exterior.

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and I found this graphic at the museum’s website

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Here are a few samples of the other exhibits on display, the first a story wall, at which you can also listen to native speakers of Wabanaki languages.ABBE_0642_1000

and one of the stories

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Snowshoes – they don’t make them like this anymore.

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a Ledger Drawing – Nicotiana Tobacum – Chris Pappan – 2017

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An unusual environmental comment.

And finally, three paintings by young native student artists.

I loved the color – and I let them speak for themselves.

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A really wonderful way to finish our day – unless you count the fabulous lobster rolls we had for dinner at the restaurant across from our hotel. You’ll unfortunately have to use your imagination.

Next time, we make a loop through Acadia National Park.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island, Maine with a population of 5,200. It’s a popular tourist destination in the Down East region of Maine and home to the College of the Atlantic, Jackson Laboratory, and MDI Biological Laboratory. Prior to a catastrophic 1947 fire, the town was a famous summer colony for the super-affluent. We stayed at the Central House, a small hotel in the center of town (red dot).

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It’s very likely that it had been someone’s estate but now it was full of tourists.

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We had a room under the dormer on the third floor. There’s no elevator so it entailed a bit of schlepping of bags but otherwise was not an issue.

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The common spaces were obviously furnished to be comfortable and casual.

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The sun porch was popular for many for take-out meals and I used it a couple of times to sit with my laptop and edit photos.

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Wikipedia provides some background about the town. The town of Bar Harbor was founded on the northeast shore of Mount Desert Island, which the Wabanaki Indians knew as Pemetic, meaning “range of mountains” or “mountains seen at a distance.” The Wabanaki seasonally fished, hunted and gathered berries, clams, and other shellfish in the area. They spoke of Bar Harbor as Man-es-ayd’ik (“clam-gathering place”) or Ah-bays’auk (“clambake place”), leaving great piles of shells as evidence of this abundance.

In early September 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain ran aground on a rock ledge believed to be just off Otter Cliffs, and when he came ashore to repair his boat he met local natives. Champlain named the island Isles des Monts Deserts, meaning “island of barren mountains”—now called Mount Desert Island, the largest in Maine. The community was first settled by Europeans in 1763 by Israel Higgins and John Thomas and incorporated on February 23, 1796.

By 1880, there were 30 hotels, including the Mira Monte Inn. Tourists were arriving by train and ferry to the Gilded Age resort that would rival Newport, Rhode Island. The rich and famous tried to outdo each other with entertaining and estates, often hiring landscape gardener and landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, a resident at local Reef Point Estate, to design their gardens. We observed that the current mix of housing has a wide variety, some of it re-purposed.

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Yachting, garden parties, and carriage rides up Cadillac Mountain were popular diversions. Others enjoyed horse-racing at Robin Hood Park-Morrell Park. President William Howard Taft played golf in 1910 at the Kebo Valley Golf Club. On March 3, 1918, Eden was renamed Bar Harbor, after the sand and gravel bar, visible at low tide, which leads across to Bar Island and forms the rear of the harbor. The name would become synonymous with elite wealth.

In mid-October 1947, Maine experienced a severe drought. Sparks at a cranberry bog near Town Hill ignited a wildfire that would intensify over ten days, and not be declared out until mid-November; this was one of several wildfires in the state that year. Nearly half the eastern side of Mount Desert Island burned, including 67 palatial summer houses on Millionaires’ Row. Five historic grand hotels and 170 permanent homes were destroyed. Over 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) of Acadia National Park were destroyed. Fortunately, the town’s business district was spared. Today, it’s a mix of historic and commercial / historically-inspired buildings composed of collections of details. I prefer the real thing, like the Morrison, but even it has its limits.

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The dilemma of course is that enough fake-historical elements (wrought-iron balcony and nailed-on mini-shutters) have been added that the original sturdy facade is now confused. The clock looks added as well.

Other buildings downtown are less confusing – pretty much all “created-history” – though the car diving through the one building is more 20th century amusement park.

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It’s fun the first time through but a bit wearing after while. Down the street we got ourselves oriented in relation to our B and B by a map located in front of the post office.

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The post office itself clearly comes across as one of those sturdy government buildings that have anchored so many small towns in the US.

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The irony of course is that many functions of the postal service have been bypassed by on-line communications, so that these community anchors function less and less as such. Across the street, the Atlantic, a contemporary coffee house, was housed in one of the few relatively modern buildings that we came across.

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But generally, Bar Harbor’s downtown seems comfortable with historical gestures, since they satisfy most of the needs of the tidal flow of tourism.

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We did find that as we moved towards the harbor, elements were more meaningful.

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I’m not sure when the fountain was installed; but it seems to have been cared for over an extended period of the town’s history.

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There’s no question about the value of sail boats; but there is a vigorous debate about cruise ships – or rather their accommodation.

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Currently, there is no pier large enough to handle them, so passengers have to be shuttled back and forth on small boats (like the one in front of the cruise ship). The local merchants, seeing opportunity in the periodic tidal flow of customers, want to have an old pier enlarged. Those people more protective of the traditional Bar Harbor ambiance would like to leave the system alone. They prefer to see Bar Harbor as described here: as a Museum in the Streets,

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and as illustrated by this hotel just beyond the sign, with its harbor view.

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We made a loop around downtown, passing through a pleasant residential area,

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before coming to some iconic New England structures – and a surprise. The Bar Harbor Congregational Church contributed the classic white steeple in green trees.

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A village burying ground provides a resting place for many unknown, or at least unmarked, citizens including “selectmen and legislators”.

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St Saviour’s decided on an Arts and Crafts style for their church – not unheard of but unusual for a small town in such an isolated setting.

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I was struck by the industrial quality of the carillon with the bells intertwined with some of the diagonal bracing of the structure. It’s out of character with the church and the kind of detailing normally used even with ‘ordinary’ structures.

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The interior had a heavy, dark quality – suited to a winter style of worship.

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Across the street was the surprise, the ABBE Museum.

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It took over a former YMCA building that had been built to consciously to fit into the style of the neighborhood; but it’s goals were of a different nature. There’s enough there that I’m going to give it its own post – next time.

Acadia National Park – East

The next leg of our trip took us southwest along the Maine coast towards Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island.

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The “coast” road doesn’t literally run along the coast, so this view was more common than views of the ocean. As can be seen in the map below, the Maine coast doesn’t come close to resembling a straight line; and building roads to follow all these irregularities would be unacceptably costly and expose them too much to the elements.

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Mt. Desert Island is the largest island off the coast of Maine with an area of 108 square miles and a year-round population of about 11,000 people. As is obvious from the map above, it anchors an archipelago of smaller islands scattered along the Main coast. We were arriving from the north east and thereby happened, in a totally unplanned way, onto Acadia National Park East, part of the Gouldsboro peninsula across Frenchman Bay from Mt. Desert Island, Bar Harbor, and the central part of the park.

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We decided to take a loop around the peninsula and save Bar Harbor for later in the day. The road wound through a peaceful evergreen forest.

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and delivered us to a surprise Acadia Park Visitor Center.

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Apparently, a private donor felt that this side of Acadia National Park needed its own center and decided to help make that happen. It’s in the good old days log style, but done well and enjoyable to visit.

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The model focuses on Frenchman Bay with this park on one side and Bar Harbor across the way on the other shore.

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From the visitor center the road took us shortly out to the water and dramatic rocks.

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I liked the way that these local rocks had been used for stairs and retaining walls.

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There’s no sandy swimming beach in this particular location,

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but there’s certainly lots of interesting rock formations, large and small.

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It’s impressive how many plants can harbor in among all these rocks,

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though enough fresh water must collect to make that possible.

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Large amounts of iron show up in the rocks in some areas (but not at all elsewhere),

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all of which gets thoroughly clad with seaweed and mollusks along the water.

Up close, it’s impressive how much pressure and movement has affected the formation

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of the many layers of the rock, and then in other places how much the action of the

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waves has also loosened them up. Running through all this some impressive crevasses

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seem to have literally pushed things apart, offering channels for water – and plants.

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Higher up on the rocks and away from the waves, the plants have an easier time of it.

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Where some soil accrues, plants can spread out; but it’s amazing how they can also manage to survive perched on a ledge.

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With this little bouquet we’ll move on to Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor.

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Lubec – West Quoddy Head

The morning of our second day in Lubec I wandered around the town a bit while Jane took her binoculars to see what sort of shorebirds she could see. It’s a small town, with mostly wooden buildings of a variety of – typically – 19th century styles. In some smaller cases, simple, symmetrical forms were chosen.

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These translated into full house forms as well,

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and were used for details and ornamentation.

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In a few cases, more elaborate structures were built – probably in times of prosperity.

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The local church exuded significant power –

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depending, of course, on your point of view. It could also be seen as modest.

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Not far from the church was the town cemetery with its war memorials. Always sad.

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At the bottom of the hill perched the once-thriving fisheries buildings

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There’s clearly some activity still going on but not what you could call a heyday. Main street has a modest but well cared-for quality.

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It’s clear that people have valued the historic aspects of their buildings,

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though in some cases modernized and tuned them up.

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We had a good seafood dinner at Cohill’s. It was obviously a meet and greet place.

At the end of Main street, near the harbor, sat a memorial to fishermen that had a nice wave quality that seemed to me to join the water to the land.

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Here are two other views, one looking to water, the other to land.

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The nearby seabirds were mostly paying attention, however, to seafood possibilities.

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Lubec grapples with a lot of topography in places. More than a few buildings were perched on steep slopes to gain a view.

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It must be a challenge to build on top of all the granite. (Think water and sewer)

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Hard to fault people about wanting a look at the view though.

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After this last look at the harbor we headed for West Quoddy Head and the Maine coast.

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West Quoddy Head, in Quoddy Head State Park, Lubec, Maine, is the eastern-most point of the contiguous United States. Since 1808, there has been a lighthouse there to guide ships through the Quoddy Narrows.

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The current one, with distinctive red-and-white stripes, was built in 1858, and is an active aid to navigation. Photographs and paintings of this lighthouse are frequently reproduced. The 3rd order Fresnel lens is the only 3rd order and one of only eight Fresnel lenses still in use on the Maine Coast.

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West Quoddy Head is an easterly-pointing peninsula in southeastern Lubec, overlooking Quoddy Narrows, a strait between Lubec and Campobello Island, Canada, that provides access to Passamaquoddy Bay and harbors located on the St. Croix River and other rivers which the empty into the bay. Most of the peninsula is part of Quoddy Head State Park, and the light station is located near the southern end of its eastern face.

A stone sign describes the lighthouse as the “eastern-most point in the U.S.A.”

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It is the easternmost building in the United States (a nearby sign proclaims the “easternmost gift shop in the U.S.”), but the actual easternmost point is at the edge of rocks extending eastward from the shore. The present light station includes a tower, former keeper’s quarters, service building, and oil house. The tower is circular and is 49 feet in height, with the beacon at 83 feet above sea level.

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The light, magnified by a third-order Fresnel lens, has a range of 18 miles. The tower is built of brick and painted in alternating horizontal red and white stripes. A small gabled entry vestibule, also brick, projects from the tower. The keeper’s house is a wood frame structure, 1-1/2 stories in height. You can’t go up in the tower – too bad – but it doesn’t look as if you could see out the windows anyway.

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See you next time, farther south along the coast.

Lubec – Campobello

Following a somewhat circuitous route from St. John, NB we made our way across the Canada – US border and into Maine, headed for Lubec, the most north-easterly town in the continental United States. It was a lovely day and we finally got to see at least the beginnings of some fall color – but this was about it.

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On the map below we were coming south from Robbinston at the top of the map, along the green route to Whiting on the lower left and then east on 189 to Lubec.

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Located on a peninsula overlooking an excellent ice-free harbor, Lubec was first settled about 1775. Originally part of Eastport, it was set off and incorporated on June 21, 1811, and named for Lübeck, Germany. Following the War of 1812, Lubeck was the site of considerable smuggling trade in gypsum, although principal industries remained agriculture and fisheries. By 1859, there was a tannery, three grist mills and nine sawmills; by 1886, there were also two shipyards, three boat-builders and three sail-makers; and as noted below, some extra-entreprenurial investment types.

From 1897 to 1898, the town was the site of a swindle in the sale of stock in the Electrolytic Marine Salts Company, the brainchild of Reverend Prescott Jernegan and Charles Fisher of Martha’s Vineyard. Jernegan claimed to have developed a method of using “accumulators” to get gold from sea water and bought an old grist mill to turn it into a factory. The scheme attracted an abundance of investors, who were all too eager to funnel money into the company after being promised astronomical returns. In the summer of 1898, work was suspended without explanation at the factory. Jernegan and Smith vanished, and the fraud was gleefully exposed by newspapers across New England.

Lubec reached its population peak in the 1910s and 20s, hovering a little above 3,300 during this era. Since then, the population has generally been in a gradual but steady decline, and currently sits at a little over 1,300.

We checked into our small motel, a refurbished fish-processing plant.

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It was comfortable, if a bit spartan, and had a good restaurant and view from our room, directly out over the fishing pier,

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and a little closer up, a view of the crab pots stacked at the ready on the dock.

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On closer inspection I discovered that in addition to each pot having its own individually color-coded bouy, the arrangement of openings into the pot, shape of the netting traps, and openings for bait food were all also uniquely designed. It’s obviously a mixture of science and mysticism.

We decided to use the nice weather that afternoon to visit Campobello Island, where the Franklin D. Roosevelt summer home is located. The island is actually in Canada; so we had to go through Customs and over the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to get there.

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It was definitely odd, having just come from Canada, to turn around and go over and back for such a short visit; but it’s an unremarkable trip for the locals. During the summer it is possible to island-hop from mainland New Brunswick to the north end of Campobello Island by ferry. That would have been an interesting and more direct way to get there; but we were too late in the season, so the ferry was no longer in service.

In 1770, a grant of the island was made to Captain William Owen (1737–1778) of the Royal Navy, who renamed it Campobello. The island’s name was derived from Britain’s Governor of Nova Scotia, Lord William Campbell, by Italianizing/Hispanicizing his name Campbell (which is really of Scottish Gaelic origin meaning ‘crooked mouth’), alluding to campo bello, which in Italian means “beautiful field” and in Spanish “beautiful country(side)”.

The creation of the colony of New Brunswick in 1784 saw the island transferred to the new jurisdiction, and by the end of the 18th century the small island had a thriving community and economy, partly aided by Loyalist refugees fleeing the American Revolutionary War. Smuggling was a major part of the island’s prosperity after the Revolution, a custom to which local officials largely turned a blind eye. During the War of 1812 the Royal Navy seized coastal lands of Maine as far south as the Penobscot River but returned them following the war, except for offshore islands.

Campobello has always relied heavily on fishing as the mainstay of the island economy; however, the Passamaquoddy Bay region’s potential for tourism was discovered during the 1880s at about the same time as The Algonquin resort was built at nearby St. Andrews and the resort community of Bar Harbor was beginning to develop. Campobello Island became home to a similar, although much smaller and more exclusive, development following the acquisition of some island properties by several private American investors. A luxurious resort hotel was built and the island became a popular summer colony for wealthy Canadians and Americans, who built homes along its beaches and, as below, its lake fronts.

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Among those with estates were Sara Delano and her husband James Roosevelt Sr. from New York City. Sara Delano had a number of Delano cousins living in Maine, and Campobello offered a beautiful summer retreat where family members could easily visit. From 1883 onward, the Roosevelt family made Campobello Island their summer home.

Their son Franklin D. Roosevelt would spend his summers on Campobello from the age of one until, as an adult, he acquired a larger property — a 34-room “cottage” — which he used as a summer retreat until 1939. It was at Campobello, in August 1921, that the future president fell ill and was diagnosed with polio, which resulted in his total and permanent paralysis from the waist down.

Roosevelt Campobello International Park preserves the house and surrounding landscape of the summer retreat. The park is owned and administered by the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission, created by international treaty signed by Governor General Georges Vanier, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, and President Lyndon B. Johnson on January 22, 1964. The park was established on July 7, 1964. Both countries provide financial support to the park. It is an affiliated area of Parks Canada and of the U.S. National Park Service. A visitor center provides orientation.

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It’s a bit of an odd combination of visitors’ center, museum, personal memorabilia, and presidential connections that makes you feel entitled, as if in a museum, to take it all in; and at the same time constrained, as if you’re snooping into someones private life.

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Sailing was a popular pasttime in the summer – this is a model of a favorite boat.

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We decided to see the house first and then come back for the museum tour.

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The 34-room “cottage”, built in the Shingle Style and completed in 1897, was designed by Willard T. Sears. The gambrel roof gives it a renovated-barn scale and character; but there are enough details up close to render it comfortably residential.

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Continuing the museum / residence analogy, the house contains a pretty complete set of personal furniture and possessions accompanied by photos to give a sense of history.

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Things were set up as if to convey that the Roosevelts had just stepped away, as with this model sail boat “under construction”,

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or these games temporarily abandoned, the chairs pushed casually back as if the children had rushed off to some other activity.

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Eleanor kept up a regular correspondence; so her desk anchored a key position,

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the key position being along the main hall that ran the length of the house, and near the stair to the second floor, from which she could keep an eye on everything.

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She also worked to music when the mood struck her.

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The living room comfortably looked out over the bay, with several seating groups.

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The view had been created by cutting a swath through the woods down to a dock.

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Sailing was commemorated as well as enjoyed.

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There was also a view from the dining room; but it appeared not to have been as much of a focus – though the summer days would have been long enough this far north.

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Upstairs, the accommodations were comfortably tucked under the roof shapes, facing the bay view for the adults,

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and smaller and simpler on the land side for the children.

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Even though the Roosevelts were here only in the summers, they paid attention to keeping up with their children’s educations, using a small, upstairs room for classes.

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Back downstairs, we exited at the kitchen end of the house.

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Farm-style kitchen but with a copper hot water boiler, and a small dining room for staff or perhaps, on occasion, the children.

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We exited through the kitchen door and headed down towards the water. The rear of the house looks much like the front.

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It looks out over lawn that runs all the way to the beach.

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The view back has a similar telescoped view quality.

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A map shows the extent of the park and location of the cottage on the upper left.

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Down by the water, a small porch-like platform graces the edge of the beach.

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It provides some seating, but also a series of information panels on a wide variety of subjects related to the island, from history to fisheries to current acquaculture efforts.

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We made our way back to the Visitors’ Center for a look at the history displays. One wall contained essentially a scrapbook of family summer activities.

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Another area though, gave showed just how different travel was in those days.

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It was a long, slow train trip from Boston to Portland and then via smaller railroads, first inland to Bangor and then back out along the coast to Eastport, where the family plus their staff and 30-40 trunks of clothes and supplies would transfer again to the small shuttle railroad across the bay to Lubec.

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Once you arrived and settled, though, life took on a more familiar feeling.

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We headed back across the bridge to Lubec, partly to be practical and do our laundry, partly to try out one of the restaurants in town, and finally take one last look at our view as the day drew to a close.

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Next time we’ll explore the town a bit, check out the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse and officially start down the Maine coast towards Boston.

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