Down To The Sea

There’s a lot more to the often overlooked mid-coastal Maine than lobster. but the lobster is amazing.

Among the elaborate Victorian houses on Congress Street in Belfast, Maine, is a bed-and-breakfast called the Mad Captain’s House. The name doesn’t entirely spring from B & B whimsy but reflects a maritime disaster woven into the region’s rich seafaring heritage. Capt. Edwin Horace Herriman, whose home it was, was master and part owner of the P. R. Hazeltine , launched on May 25, 1876. At 233 feet, the schooner was the largest vessel ever built in Belfast.

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The Persistence Of Portland

Small, handsome, and often beleaguered this surprisingly cosmopolitan Maine city has had a history of clawing its wav baclk from oblivion—and today,it’s on an upswing again

I moved to Portland four years ago for a simple reason: After years of living and working in New York City, I was suddenly tired of the incessant noise. Portland seemed to offer me, a nature-loving city person, the best of both worlds. It has the ocean at its doorstep and forests, lakes, mountains, and rolling farmland in its back yard. It’s a city made for walking, with residential neighborhoods downtown. Portland is still small enough that people nod hello on the street, yet its residents come from all over the world. Read more »

Nicknames On The Land

A small but dependable pleasure of travel is encountering such blazons of civic pride as “Welcome to the City of Cheese, Chairs, Children, and Churches!”

Stephen Vincent Benét confessed that he had fallen in love with American placenames, and George R. Steward, author of the classic Names on the Land, wrote that he was born with rapturous feelings towards the names and cities that “lay thickly over the land.” Read more »

Loyalist Refuge

When their side lost the Revolution, New Englanders who had backed Britain packed up, sailed north, and established the town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. It still flourishes.

When in 1783 it became clear that a band of American rebels had succeeded in their insurrection against King George, Robert Pagan and 443 of his neighbors in Castine, Maine, did the only thing loyal subjects of the Crown could do: they dismantled their houses and pubs, board by board and nail by nail, piled them onto schooners, and sailed for the northern Crown colonies. There, at the confluence of the St.Read more »

The Unexpected Artistry Of A New England Shipmaster

The richly embellished account book of an eighteenth-century sea captain, newly discovered in a Maine attic

IN JUNE OF 1976 THE MAINE MARITIME Museum in Bath received a letter addressed simply to “The Curator.” It was from two local women named Carrie Groves and Gladys Castner and described some nautical material including a “large color drawing of a ship” that the two women felt belonged in a museum. Museums, of course, receive hundreds of such offers every year, and in the overwhelming majority of cases the material turns out to be of no particular value. Read more »

If You Ran A Small-town Weekly

… you could battle for clean government, champion virtue, improve the public school, defend the consumer, arbitrate taste, and write lean, telling prose. Or at least that was the author’s dream. Here’s the reality.

It was three in the morning, two days after St. Patrick’s Day, 1958, when I disembarked from a Greyhound bus and stepped into the snowdrifts at the entrance to the Kennebunk Inn, in Kennebunk, Maine. A startled night clerk called the police; he could conjure no other service that might help me go the final mile of my trip in a snowstorm. My journey ended when I said good night to patrolman Frank Stevens, slammed the cruiser door, and entered the cottage where Sandy Brook waited for his new partner. Read more »

The Man Who Loved Wilderness

The Passion of Percy Baxter—

A penny pincher who gave away millions, a governor who ordered the state’s flags lowered to half-mast upon his dog’s death, a lifelong bachelor who was the attentive escort of beautiful women, an animal lover who sent stray dogs to prison as companions for the inmates—Percival Proctor Baxter of Maine (1876–1969) was a true Yankee original. There is no evidence that he ever held any opinion mildly. He was also a visionary, a resolute one who had to buy his dream to have it realized. What this singular and complex man coveted was Maine’s highest peak, Mt.Read more »

That Mess On The Prestile

From a way Down East came a stench of politics and potatoes, and news of a border incident that true patriots will long remember as

The traveller who leaves Maine on Route 6 and enters New Brunswick at Centreville encounters a curious monument beside the road only fifty feet inside the Canadian border. It is a large concrete slab, ten feet tall and tapering toward its flat, unadorned top. A plaque on its face bears the following inscription:


MONUMENT Read more »