by Chrisso Rheault
Thursday, September 15
We mee at Lincolnville Beach and take the ferry to Islesboro Island. Maine has over 3,000 islands along the coast, ranging from tiny rocks to full-fledged year round communities. Islesboro is the latter, 14 miles long with 560 year-round residents. Settled by westerners in the 1760’s, by the mid 19th century Islesboro had the largest shipping fleet on Penobscot Bay. By the end of the 19th century however it had become a popular destination for wealthy families from Boston and New York. The large summer homes built in the ‘cottage style‘, are evident today.
This summer respite was invaded by the roaring and snorting GP Bugattis, with one almost going into the ocean. Dinner as seemed appropriate, was a beach side lobster bake as the moon rose over Penobscot Bay.
Friday September 16
Heading up Rt 1 we first passed the city of Belfast. Had you visited this Belfast in 1985 you would have been overpowered by the presence of poultry, processing of which had become the major industry here. The Passagassawakeag River (or the Passy as it’s known) helped Belfast develop as a major port in the 19th century and also a significant producer of 3 and 4-masted schooners. In the early 20th century industry shifted to processing seafood destined for New York and Boston. Today shipbuilding is once again thriving in this community of artisans.
Farther north we crossed the Verona Narrows Bridge and pass the town of Bucksport. Built in 2006 to replace an elderly suspension bridge, the new bridge includes a viewing platform which offers panoramic views of Penobscot Bay. Upstream from the bridge on the western shore is Fort Knox. Built between 1844 and 1869, the fort never saw action but was manned during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.
Our first visit of the day was the Seal Cove Auto Museum, home to one of the finest collections of Brass-era cars. The collection and museum were created by Richard Paine, who built this collection over many years, buying many of his cars from Samuel Scher. During his lifetime Paine was less than keen to advertise his museum but the trustees do a great job to keep it open for the public. Currently the museum is hosting an exhibit on the battle to ban cars on Mount Desert in the 30’s. It also features a very unique Graber bodied car, which from the rear could be mistaken for a Type 57.
Leaving Mount Desert Island, passed through the village of Blue Hill and head to the town of Brooklin Maine, home to Wooden Boat School and WoodenBoat Magazine. Started in 1974 as a magazine about wooden boats and boat building, the company grew a few years later to include a school for professional boat builders and novices alike, where they could hone skills and learn new ones. It continues to be a key element in the traditional boat community. And the location is pretty spectacular too.
After lunch we returned to Blue Hill and gathered for a brief car display. George Stevens Academy is an independent school but it serves the surrounding communities including many lower income families. Their French Club is organizing a trip to France in 2017 and our lunch provided funds for students going on that trip. The return route to Northport gave an optional stop in Castine, one of the oldest settlements in Maine, scene of Revolutionary war skirmishes and spying, and now home to Maine Maritime Academy, one of the foremost schools for those interested in Merchant Marine careers.
Saturday, September 17
On our third day, we ventured away from the coast and into the hills and farmlands of Maine, we first visited the famous Liberty Tool store which is a wealth of antique tools of all kinds. The Liberty Tool Co. building was a general store with a rooming house on the second floor and a dance hall on the third floor. All these floors, as well as the cellar, are now utilized for the sale of old tools, hardware, antiques, trunks, used furniture, prints, postcards, books, magazines, records, glassware, pottery, toys, collectibles and any other interesting artifacts salvaged from estate lots throughout New England. The tool annex is located across the street in the former Banks’ Garage. Next door is Liberty Graphics which makes beautiful…
To be continued!