Maine sings the ultimate Siren’s Song, with its ocean views, beaches, pristine forests and other natural wonders that beckon to be explored. A few fun facts, places and legends to ponder as you plan your trip to this incredible area:
- The phrase “Down East” came into common usage in the early 1600’s: the coast of Maine goes east but, at the same time, it also runs northward too, or up. Early explorers quickly found out that the prevailing winds blew from the southwest (as they do today). Therefore, they most frequently sailed with, or down the wind, as they moved to the eastward, or “Down East.”
- Most of Maine’s lighthouses are best viewed by boat, but you can drive to, picnic at and be stunned by the natural beauty of well-known (and most photographed) West Quoddy Head lighthouse in South Lubec.
- Local Tides: The greatest rise and fall of tides on the shores of the continental United States occur along the Washington County coast. The tall pilings at Jonesport, Lubec and Eastport attest to the gigantic fluctuations of the ocean’s level where 18-foot variations are average (and can reach 28 feet – or a change of 1-inch per minute!).
- “Old Sow” Whirpool: Tidal currents coming together between Eastport and Deer Island, N.B. form the “Old Sow” whirlpool – one of the world’s largest and most dangerous. The whirlpool has tipped over a tanker, chewed many smaller craft to bits. It’s at its best two hours before flood tide, drive down near Dog Island in Eastport to see it.
- Bailey’s Mistake: Around 1830 the thing that was to set this typical bit of Maine coastline off from the rest of Trescott and, in fact, from the rest of any normally-named villages, happened one stormy night: A self-assured, confident and experienced skipper named Bailey was making his way down the coast from Boston in a four-masted schooner. The fog swirled so thickly it became impossible to see from mast to mast, and ground to a rending, shuddering and utterly complete halt astride what is now called Bailey’s Ledge. The story goes that Captain Bailey and some members of his crew, reluctant to return to Boston and face the music in the home office, took his cargo of lumber off the ship, built some homes right here in Washington County and settled down.
- Halfway There: You’re standing on the same latitude as southern France and northern China but you’re still in Washington County, Maine. Where are you? You could be standing in the town of Perry next to the red granite stone that marks the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole. The State, recognizing back in 1896 that something unique in Maine was worth mentioning, has created a pull-off picnic spot on Route 1 between Perry and Robbinston.
- The Milestones: There are a dozen chunks of red granite set beside Route 1 way downeast in Washington County. These moss-backed milestones, starting in the border city of Calais and terminating 12 miles away in the little town of Robbinston, were set out around 1870 by James Shepherd Pike. Today, as far as we know, this is the only place in Maine where residents can pinpoint their homes by saying, “I live just past the eighth milestone” and this is the only section of highway in the state where the mileage markers were installed a quarter of a century before the gasoline buggy was ever dreamed of.