Maine's Lakes & Mountains
From Portland, you could drive west on U.S. Route 302 to the Western Lakes & Mountains Region. Route 302 is the third busiest gateway to Maine and winds its way through the foothills of the northern end of the Appalachian Mountains.
Maine ranks first in the states in abundance of semiprecious gemstones and this region is dotted with evidence of that. Stop at Poland Spring Preservation Park, home to the Poland Spring Water Bottling Company.
Bethel is home to Maine’s largest ski resort, Sunday River. Just north of Bethel is Grafton Notch State Park with beautiful natural scenic wonders like Screw Auger Falls and Mother Walker Falls Gorge.
Rumford, about 24 miles east of Bethel, was the birthplace of President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state and former senator, Edmund S. Muskie and Black Mountain Ski Area with its downhilll and cross country ski facilities.
Farmington is home to Chester Greenwood, the man who invented earmuffs. At age 15 he got frustrated at trying to find a way to protect his ears from the cold while ice skating, so he had his grandmother sew some fur onto two ear-shaped loops of wire. He made a fortune selling earmuffs to the U.S. Army during World War I. In 1936 he sold 400,000 pairs worldwide. Each year the town of Farmington celebrates Chester Greenwood Day on the first Saturday of December. Greenwood went on to make other inventions including the steel tooth rake.
The inventors of the Stanley Steamer automobile were born in Kingfield. You can learn more about the twin brothers, F.E. and F.O. Stanley, at the Stanley Museum there. The museum has exhibits of all facets of the Stanley’s work including three steam-powered automobiles.
The Rangeley Lakes region is a popular destination for moose watching tours offered by the Rangeley Inn. They also offer a gold panning tour for groups.
Norlands Living History Center in Livermore was home to the Washburn family, one of the great political dynasties of the 19th Century. The seven sons of Israel and Martha Washburn rose to serve as state governors, congressmen, a U.S. senator, Secretary of State, foreign ministers, a Civil War general, and a Navy captain. Their former home is now a living history center with programs perfectly suited for groups.
Lewiston/Auburn make up the state’s second largest metropolitan area. The Androscoggin River bisects the two communities and is dotted with historic brick mills that once housed a thriving textile industry. At the height of this booming industry, French Canadians migrated to the area at a rate of 100-150 per day by during the 1860s and 1870s to work in the mills. Today, L/A, as it is known by locals, has a large French population.
Across the river in Auburn, shoe manufacturing became the largest industry. Around the time of the Civil War, Auburn had 23 shoe factories that produced 600,000 pairs of shoes and boots. By 1922, Auburn was the fifth largest shoe producer in the U.S. making as many as 70,000 pairs per day.
Lewiston has a history of being a popular boxing town. Cassius Clay (before changing his name to Muhammad Ali) fought Sonny Liston here.
Southwest of L/A is the Shaker Village in New Gloucester. It is the only active Shaker community left in the country. Tours are available Monday through Saturday beginning at 10:30am.
About five miles down the road from the Shaker Village is the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. It is home to orphaned or injured wildlife that cannot be returned to the wild. It is open to the public and offers exhibits of moose, deer, mountain lions, bears, birds and other wild animals.
Just off Route 302 in Sebago Lake State Park are the Songo Locks. Of the 27 locks that were built in the area, this is the only one still remaining. It still operates and sees heavy traffic from boats that are traveling between Sebago Lake and Long Lake.
Board game pioneer, Milton Bradley was born in Vienna, Maine in 1836.
Norway, Maine was once known as the snowshoe capital of the world.