Friday, June 27, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0106 - Maine, 2014 Part III

I was hoping that my second trip to Bangor would turn out better than the first one. When I was in the Air Force stationed at Goose Bay, Labrador, I had some time off so I decided to catch a “hop” (flying without Orders) to New York City. (Actually, we would fly into Harmon AFB quite often and then catch the bus into New York City.) Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding a “hop” back to Labrador. I typically didn’t like to fly on MATS (Military Air Transport Service) planes, but a MATS flight was the only thing that I could find going north to Labrador that evening. I was told that there was one open seat on the plane, but the problem was that the flight had to make two stops – one in Bangor and one in Newfoundland. The risk of catching a “hop” on a MATS plane is that anyone traveling with orders has priority over “hop” passengers and you can get bumped off the plane. I decided that the probability of anyone getting on a flight going north in either Bangor or Newfoundland was remote, so I decided to take the chance. Bad choice! In Bangor someone with Orders wanted to get on the flight, so I was going to lose my seat. Fortunately, the pilot let someone ride in the cockpit jumpseat, so we were soon on our way - only to run into a terrible rainstorm before we had to land in Newfoundland. I had flown in and out of Newfoundland a number of times, so I was surprised when the plane came in high on our final approach. I really started getting nervous when the end of the runway went by and we were still about 100+ feet in the air. Soon the 1,000 foot market went by, then the 2,000 foot marker! About the time we were at the 3,000 foot marker the plane hit hard on the right wheels, then hard on the left wheels, followed by a hard impact to the nose wheel, and then full brakes. When we stopped, personal items were scattered down all of the aisles and the plane was at the end of the runway just a short distance from the ocean. That increased my heart rate and created a RonnieAdventure that I'll never forget!
When we arrived in Bangor this time, I found that Dow Air Force Base had been turned over to the City and was now Bangor International Airport. Located in downtown Bangor was a life-size statue of Paul Bunyan, but apparently he forgot his blue ox. There were also lots of lilacs and other flowers in bloom throughout the city and surrounding area.  

While we were in Bangor I wanted to stop at the Cole Land Transportation Museum (a must for all transportation enthusiasts), which has something for everyone’s interest. The museum is easy to find because it abuts the only full-clover-leaf interchange in all of Maine. The Maine State World War II Veterans Memorial is also located on the same grounds and there is a dedicated area in the Museum that honors all veterans.

Stephen King called Bangor his home, so many of his books take place in Bangor, or the surrounding communities; thus, Bangor’s nickname “Transylmaina.” I’m not a Stephen King fan, so I didn’t try to find any of the places mentioned in his writings. I understand, however, that the Bangor Garden Cemetery is actually quite beautiful.
The Maine Forest & Logging Museum at Leonard’s Mills is a living history museum commemorating the logging industry in Maine, and a popular destination for school trips. School children are given hands-on experiences by people dressed in period clothing, so that the children can learn what it was like to live in a sawmill community. It was interesting to watch the old water-powered sawmill at work, but the fish ladders were the main attraction for the kids. This was the first time since the late 1700s that the Alewives (a type of river herring) had run this far up the stream and the school kids were able to catch fish with their bare hands!

 Milo is a quaint little community that just seemed to have a lot of character. After eating ice cream at one of the Main Street shops, we walked around town looking at the old buildings and enjoyed the view of a small stream as it cascaded over a dam that was constructed in 1823 to power a sawmill.


We missed the annual hot air balloon festival in Dover-Foxcroft by one day, so I had to settle for taking pictures of the town square Civil War monument. After the Civil War there must have been a really great monument salesman in the area because for the rest of the trip we saw the same Civil War monument in numerous other communities.  

 Not too far from Dover-Foxcroft is Lowe’s Covered Bridge. The bridge was originally constructed in 1857, but it was damaged by a flood on April 1, 1987 and the rebuilt in 1990, patterned after the original bridge. The bridge has a clear span of 120 feet as it crosses the Piscataquis River. 

 Historically, Skowhegan Falls were a favorite salmon fishing area for the Abenaki Indians, but the Falls are now under the lake formed by Weston Dam.  

 The Ticonic Footbridge, typically called the “Two-Cent Bridge,” is a suspension bridge that traverses the Kennebec River and connects Winslow and Waterville. The bridge is one of the oldest surviving wire-cable steel suspension bridges and it is also considered to be the last known extant toll footbridge in the United States. The original toll was one cent, but a flood destroyed the original bridge, so after the bridge was rebuilt in 1903, the toll crossing increased to two cents. Thus, the name “Two Cent Bridge.” In 1960 the toll was abolished altogether and the bridge owners donated the bridge to the City of Waterville. 

Did I mention that they have quilt shops in Maine? However, the women that run the shops are smarter than most places - they have a "Husband's Bench" by the front door. They even keep a shovel by the bench, so that when husbands get bored they can go dig in the garden for a while.

Friday, June 20, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0105, Maine, 2014 Part II

The southernmost part of Schoodic Peninsula, which is also part of Acadia National Park, is located on the east side of Frenchman Bay across from Mount Desert Island; however Schoodic Peninsula is much more rustic and undeveloped when compared to Mount Desert Island. Many local residents on Schoodic Peninsula are involved in the lobster and fishing industry, so as you drive through the privately owned parts of the peninsula you see many boats and lobster cages next to the roadway, along with many additional boats anchored in the harbors. The road around the Peninsula is designated a National Scenic Byway and contains various information signs along the route. The rocks along the southeast side of the Peninsula have a reddish color with intermittent black bands, which was apparently caused by volcanic action when the earth was formed.


Lubec is located on the east coast of Maine and is considered by local residents to be the eastern most community in the continental United States. However, the community of Eastport, and several other locations, also claim to contain the easternmost point. So, if you ever want to get into an argument, just go to Lubec, or Eastport, and comment that the other city has the easternmost record. But, if you really want to expand the argument, you have to consider that the people in Bar Harbor contend that because Cadillac Mountain is so much higher than the surrounding area, and it is the point in the continental United States that receives the first ray of sunlight in the morning, it should be considered to be the eastern most point in the continental United States. (What the people in Bar Harbor don’t tell you is that due to the Earth’s tilt, Cadillac Mountain only received the first ray of Maine’s east coast sunlight during a certain season of the year.) However, it really gets complex when you consider all of the United States and not just the “continental” US because Alaska contends that the easternmost point in the United States is in Alaska and the first ray of sunlight that strikes the US each day is in Alaska. You decide!

Campobello Island, which is part of New Brunswick, Canada, is connected to Lubec by the FDR International Bridge. Campobello was the summer home of Franklin Roosevelt and the home site has now been converted into an International Park, managed jointly by the United States and Canada. Since the island is so small, going through customs was easier than at most border crossings.

Guided tours are offered through the Roosevelt home and a self-guided tour is available through parts of the adjacent Hubbard Cottage. Hubbard Cottage has a large oval window in the living room with a beautiful view of the bay and is the highlight of the house. After touring the Roosevelt facilities, we had “Tea with Eleanor” at 3:00 PM and learned a lot about Eleanor’s life.

The Mulholland Point Lighthouse is adjacent to the FDR Bridge as you enter Campobello Island and the Head Harbor Lightstation is located at the easternmost point of the island. The Mulholland Point Lighthouse is not open to the public and you can only reach the Head Harbor Lightstation a low tide. Since it was not low tide when we arrived at the bay crossing, the land bridge that connects the lightstation to the main island was under water; thus, no trip to Head Harbor Lightstation.

Historically, Eastport was known for its sardine fishery and related canning businesses. By 1886, the City contained 13 sardine factories that produced approximately 5,000 cases of sardines per week. But as the sardine population declined, so did Eastport and the City went bankrupt in 1937. 

Today, Eastport is a tourist destination and is known for its annual salmon fishing event; thus, located in the historic district is a statue of a fisherman holding a salmon. A picture of the statue is used on many Maine tourist brochures.

Also, located just off the shore of Eastport is the “Old Sow” whirlpool. “Old Sow” is the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere and is one of the five significant whirlpools in the world. (The other locations are Scotland, Norway (2), and Japan.) The name “Old Sow” is derived from a pig-like sucking sound that the whirlpool makes. The whirlpool is a function of the sea floor’s unusual topography and the actions of the tidal currents between two bays. Small craft are warned to avoid these waters; however, if you do get caught in the whirlpool, and survive, you can join a survivors club in Eastport. Unfortunately, the whirlpool is only active at high tide and we were there at low tide, so I borrowed one of Jim Lowe’s pictures from the internet. Thanks Jim!

About two miles north of Perry Corner on Route One is a rough-cut stone marker that is difficult to read; but an interpretive sign indicates that it is the 45th parallel north marker, which is the midpoint between the Equator and the North Pole. Other locations on the 45th Parallel north line include the wine regions of Bordeaux, the deserts of Mongolia, the northernmost tip of Japan, and Salem, Oregon.

Saint Croix Island contains about 6.5 acres of land and lies in the middle of the St. Croix River that divides the US and Canada. Although there is no commercial transportation to the island, there is an International Historical Site (located on US soil) dedicated to the first Saint Croix Island settlement. Throughout the park there are numerous statues and interpretive signs that explain the Saint Croix Island settlement history.

In 1604, King Henri IV granted Pierre Dugua the title Lieutenant-General and an area trade monopoly, if Dugua would “establish the name, power, and authority of the King of France; to summon the natives to a knowledge of the Christian religion; to people, cultivate, and settle the said lands; to make explorations and especially to seek out mines of precious metals.”

Because Saint Croix Island is about the same latitude as France, Dugua assumed the climate would be about the same as the climate in France. Therefore, he selected an island in the middle of the river to build a settlement because it would be easy to defend and close to trade routes with the native people. After the men were settled, Champlain returned to France with the ships to acquire more supplies and men, and left Dugua and 78 men on the small island.

Unfortunately, Dugua knew nothing of the arctic air flow from the north and the severity of the North American winters. Soon the river froze and the tides upheaved large chunks of ice, making it too dangerous to cross the river. The men were trapped on the Island and cut off from game and wood for their fires. By February, the men started dying and by the time the Passamaquoddy Indians found them in the spring, almost half of the men had died. The Indians supplied the survivors with food and when Champlain returned in mid-June, the Saint Croix settlement was abandoned and moved to Port Royal.

The Watson Settlement Covered Bridge, located north of Houlton, is the farthest north and the youngest of Maine’s original covered bridges (built in 1911). The bridge has timber trusses of the Howe design and it is composed of two spans with a total length of 170 feet.

Although the Oakfield Railroad Station was closed the day we visited the area, the train tracks are still very active. The old wood-frame Station has now been converted into a museum that is only open on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM during the summer months.

The Patten Lumberman’s Museum contains an extensive collection of 1800s and early 1900s artifacts housed in nine buildings. As an introduction to the museum, there is an amazing 20 minute movie that was made with a really early movie camera about daily life in an early logging camp. Amazingly, cooks received the highest wages ($4.00/day), blacksmiths/saw filers the next highest ($3.65/day), followed by the logging jobs that ranged from $2.30 to $2.75 per day. It is no wonder that a lot of young men wanted to learn how to cook!