Downeast & Acadia
The gateway to this region, when traveling Route 1, is the 2,040-foot Waldo-Hancock County suspension bridge, built in 1931 for $846,000. It stands 135 feet above mean high water level. The steel towers are 206 feet high.
The Downeast & Acadia region starts in Bucksport, home to the Northeast Historic Film and the Alamo Theater. The Alamo was built in 1916 and houses New England’s only moving image archive.
The Maine Maritime Academy in Castine offers tours of their training vessel, the T.S. State of Maine when it is not at sea training new mariners. When underway, the ship travels to ports around the world. Past ports of call have included: Iceland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Bermuda, Brazil and many others.
Mount Desert Island (MDI) is New England’s second largest island (Martha’s Vineyard in MA is the largest). Almost half of MDI’s land area is covered by Acadia National Park. Native Americans used the island as a hunting and fishing ground. In 1604 Samuel de Champlain named it L’Isle de Monts Deserts (island of barren mountains) because there was no vegetation on its mountaintops.
The first hotel was built in 1855, followed by many more grand hotels. By 1870 there were 16 hotels in Bar Harbor. In the late 1800’s the island became a magnet for elegant summer cottages, built by wealthy visitors with names like Astor, Ford, Morgan, Rockefeller, Carnegie and Vanderbilt.
In 1919 President Wilson signed an act establishing Lafayette National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi River. The park changed its name to Acadia in 1929. Today the park encompasses 40,000 acres.
Cadillac Mountain is the centerpiece of Acadia National Park. At 1,530 feet, it is the highest point on the eastern seaboard north of Rio de Janeiro. The summit is the first piece of land in the United States to be touched by the sun’s rays.
Acadia National Park is the second most visited national park in the country.
In 1947, a massive fire swept across MDI, destroying 67 of Bar Harbor’s 220 summer mansions and 17,000 acres of woodland.
Visitors can take “The Cat” ferry from Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia in about three hours.
The first naval battle of the American Revolution was fought off the coast of Machiasport.
The Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station in Cutler, Maine, was a communication center used to provide contact with U.S submarines in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Arctic seas. With an output of 2 million watts, this is the most powerful transmitter in the world.
There are many interesting bits of trivia about Washington County. Washington County supplies 80 percent of the countries wild blueberries. Maine’s easternmost town is Lubec. The easternmost city is Eastport.
Eastport is where the television program, Murder in Small Town X was filmed. Eastport is home to the “Old Sow” whirlpool, one of the largest whirlpools in the world. The mean high tide in Eastport rises 18.2 feet. Eastport was known as the
Sardine Capital of the World. Raye’s Mustard Mill in Eastport is the nation’s last remaining producing stone ground mustard.
The town of Perry is halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. A marker denoting this fact was placed there by the National Geographic Society.
Ironically, the West Quoddy Head lighthouse stands on the easternmost point in the United States.
When ships sailed from Boston to Maine, they sailed downwind to the East which was shortened to downeast.
The Ste. Croix Colony near Calais was settled in 1604, predating Jamestown by three years. In 2004 there will be a huge joint US/Canadian commemoration in 2004 celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Ste. Croix settlement.