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THE appeal of Maine to citizens of our country who wish to see nature in her wilder moods, seems to be stronger than the appeal of any other eastern state. Indeed, residents of the remote West also make pilgrimages to Maine, because its wealth of waters supplies a condition of recreation not found in their own part of America. Without being wise enough to indicate all the reasons that call travelers to Maine, it is clear to us that the state supplies nearly all those conditions that please men when they revert for a time, as far as they dare, to the state of nature.
The extent of Maine being about equal to that of the rest of the New England states together, covers a variety of natural beauties such as all those states have, and affords other beauties which they lack. The splendid extent and grandeur of its shore set Maine apart from any other state. The great plains of its northern regions ally it with the praries of the West. Its innumerable lakes, variously estimated in number but certainly running into the thousands, give it unique distinction. The streams that flow to and from these lakes complete the water attractions of the state. The south shore has an antiquity, as regards its settlement, as great as any part of our country. The northwestern portion of the state, however, is as wild and tenantless over great areas as it was in the Indian time. The Maine mountains, while not as numerous as those of New Hampshire, are for that very reason more striking, as some of them rise to imposing heights. The vast Maine forests permit one to roam through their long aisles to heart's content. The orchards and fields are as beautiful as those found elsewhere. Taken altogether, therefore, there is no feature of allurement lacking. What one cannot find in one region is abundant in another region. The state is remarkable for its contrasts.
DRAKE ISLAND, LORD FARM
The distance of Maine from the great centers is such that it is free, generally speaking, from the roistering tripper. The persons who have made their summer homes in Maine are remarkable for their independent point of view. Here and there at unexpected places one finds a noble site nobly developed, without reference to the contiguity of any fashionable resort. While the north of the state is the paradise of the fisherman and of the hunter, the high appreciation of the older parts of the state is manifest in the great number of retired residences, which have taken advantage of some natural feature like a stream, a lake, a headland, or a forest.
FLATS AT DRAKE ISLAND
Maine! The very name inspires a deeper breath and longing. While it is true that most travelers are satisfied with the sophisticated centers, we find that the discriminating seek out in every quarter throughout Maine those nooks formed by the encircling hills, which supply a retreat, a solace, and an uplift.
It is not easy to see Maine as a whole. We know very few persons who have loved and sought out its various charms. The predilection of men's minds holds them usually to the admiration of certain charms such as the seashore, to the exclusion of other attractions. To us, the joy of Maine lies, to a large degree, in the differing aspects of its attractions. We love to follow a stream through the smooth clay fields of Maine, where there are no fences and only an occasional decorative maple or elm. We love the bold shore cliffs which here and there remain untenanted. We love the stillness and remoteness of the forests.
ROUNDING THE CLIFF - ALNA
SEA BARRIERS - MAINE COAST
SEA GULLS ON MAINE COAST
ADVANCING SEAS - CAPE ELIZABETH
THE WHITE BEARD OF THE SEA
MIDDLE MAINE BIRCHES - NEW VINEYARD
THE APPROACHES TO MAINE
THE conventional, we might say the classic, approach to Maine, is by water. Steamers from Boston ply directly to various points of the coast, and one may sail even from New York. The ancient mariners made their historic landings at Pemaquid and elsewhere, establishing settlements which antedate the famous Plymouth landing. For a hundred years, under the Massachusetts government, there were scarcely any roads in Maine. In part, the ubiquitous navigable streams and lakes account for this condition. In part, the clay, which is such a refractory material in its pure state, is responsible for the lateness of road building. In part, and probably most of all, the sparseness of the settlements has made it impossible to afford good roads in the upper portions of the state.
Approaching by sea, therefore, Portland is the first and most important landing point. Portland, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, surrounded by the islands of Casco Bay, like gems in her crown, is a fitting city to form the front door of Maine.
The Kennebec River, from Bath to Augusta, is the second main avenue of approach. This stream, throughout its course, and particularly at Merrymeeting Bay, the appropriately named confluence with the Androscoggin, is always beautiful, with green and often high banks, and little cities nestling among their trees.
The Boothbay, Wiscasset, Damariscotta, Rockland, and Camden region, considered as a unit, is marked by an involved contour forming a regiment of points and bays, which meet the ocean like the spears and chariots of an ancient army. Here, also, the coast becomes very bold, and is dominated by mountains which, by their immediate touch with the sea, are most effective, making much of their elevation.
Penobscot Bay, with Belfast, Castine, Bucksport, and Bangor, opens a lordly approach of magnificent dimensions to the rich heart of Maine.
Then there is the dignified and startling beauty of Mount Desert and its environs, and, finally, passing minor attractions, Passamaquoddy Bay, with its tremendous tides, and its opening to Eastport, Calais, and the bordering towns of its fine expanse.
GREAT CHEBEAGUE, LITTLE JOHN IN DISTANCE
Altogether, no similar extent of shore, here or abroad, can for a moment compare with this Maine coast. In the number of miles of shore line, formed by its involutions, in the heights and beaches, the mountains and streams, the wooded decorations, the safeness of its harbors, and the consequent allurement always accompanying such a coast, the approaches of Maine can never be forgotten by one who loves that mysterious and ever beautiful wonder, the sea. If Maine had no roads at all, it could still afford the summer guest a retreat, delectable and sufficiently accessible for any number of comers. Indeed, there is perhaps as much loss as gain in the improvement of the roads along the shore. Formerly one passed from inlet to inlet, from one peninsula to another, on that free element which has never bowed to a monopoly. There was a freedom, and at the same time a seclusion, in the water approaches to the island and peninsula towns of Maine. An independence and individuality marked the coast dwellers, who developed their admirable characteristics along interesting lines. They were as familiar, in the old clipper days, with London and Calcutta as with New York. They had the broad yet simple outlook of the sailor. Comparison with old world ports, where they must lighter their cargoes ashore, intensified their love for their own incomparable coast, where ships may often safely touch the banks, and where protection from storms blowing from any quarter is available. In their old age, these seamen, often made rich, for that day, by their voyagings, settled in stately old houses which they erected for themselves in scores Of little harbor towns. They had the wonderful Maine granite under their feet, and the towering Maine pines, the symbol of their state, over their heads, and their rich lands behind them. Maine is the natural seat of a great marine empire, where one never knows which to admire more, the beauty, or the safety and roominess of the harbors. From the shore, for ages to come, may go out the finest building material, for its stability and gray beauty, that any country can afford; granite. The forests, when properly conserved, as they will be, may supply continuously timber for which the world calls. The country is capable of providing staple food supplies in abundance, and the apples of Maine are delicious beyond any grown in a warmer land.
FISH HOUSES, GREAT CHEBEAGUE
The brief outline of physical Maine may, and certainly should, interest the visitor. While a shallow idler may be careless of his surroundings, beyond the question of the society and fashion which it affords, a thoughtful citizen adds greatly to his pleasure in a visit to Maine by the consideration that the state has dignity and richness and greatness, aside from its interest as a national playground.
The sea is not only the natural approach to Maine, for persons of moderate incomes, but it is also the most economical approach for persons of narrow means, who, by enduring the simple but cleanly accommodations of the steamers, may be landed in Maine for an insignificant sum. Thus they may enjoy, by careful frugality, a summer rest that does not cramp the remainder of the year.
He who sails his own yacht, however, may visit Maine at whatever expensive figure he chooses to set. All the way from the simple one-man sail-boat to the pretentious steam yacht, the coasts of Maine are followed, at least in summer, by crafts of all sorts. The superior attractions of this coast must in time make it the headquarters of those who wisely seek release from the crowded harbors farther south. There is the additional advantage that the Maine coast furnishes men capable of building and sailing every sort of pleasure craft, however elaborate. The old salt has become a yacht sailing-master.
The land approach to Maine most convenient and most used is the Portsmouth-Kittery bridge. This memorial structure happily succeeds the former obnoxious and noisy toll-bridge. Nevertheless, this great structure, built as it is with steel, cannot be permanent, and any one with an historic or poetic sense must at once feel the inappropriateness of such materials for a memorial. The structure should, of course, have been done in granite or concrete, except for its draw span. The bridge is one more striking evidence of the inartistic temperament of our race. Of course, fifty years from now, when the present structure has crystallized and must be scrapped, it will be replaced by a better form. The road from Kittery through York, Portland, Brunswick, Bath, and Rockland to Bangor and Bar Harbor, is, in some places, of the finest quality, and in certain sections is still in course of improvement. We deprecate the criticism of visitors who forget that a modern highway is far more expensive than a railroad, and that railroads are too expensive to build nowadays. The visitor to Maine may consider that every rod of high-class highway is a gift to him. However much he expends on his journey, he will never repay the state for the advantages he enjoys. The critic often forgets that great cities build nearly all the fine roads. New York and Boston pay heavily for the concrete stretches that run over forsaken areas. Maine lacks great cities. It should be remembered that the total valuation of farm lands abutting on cement roads will not begin to pay the costs of these roads. These things being so, we must be reasonably content for many years with gravel roads, and those not too wide. Whatever criticism we indulge should be directed against the parish policy of leaving execrable stretches between fine reaches of good road. The broad view should favor the completion of a good road as far as it goes. It will not be in this generation, nor possibly in the next, that we can look for roads good at all seasons in the Maine counties where no cities exist. Nor may we ever hope for more than a few trunk arteries of permanent highways.
THE ENDLESS BATTLE
FOR THE OPEN SEA!
ROUNDING THE POINT - CAPE ELIZABETH
The road diverging from the route we have mentioned at Brunswick, and running through Augusta to Bangor, is designed for another trunk line, which is being bettered from year to year. Main arteries also are mostly completed toward the Rangeley lakes, toward Moosehead Lake, and through the Aroostook and to the provinces. There are also good roads from Portland to the White Mountains.
All roads in Maine are good in the sense of being dry from the middle of June to the middle of July, in the average year. Sometimes the season is extended at both ends for a couple of weeks. If August is rainy, as it often proves to be, the clay roads become a trial to the spirit.
It is highly interesting to see what results from the passing of a cement road by an old farm house, which has been for generations connected with its market town by a slimy slough track. The interest of a traveler over the roads of Maine is, however, more properly centered on the subordinate roads which lead to the hidden beauties of the state. There is more charm in one winding ribbon track than in all the vast extent of state expenditure for highways. For the reasons to which we have alluded, there is no immediate danger of losing the charms that abound on the back roads of Maine. The attractions connected with cultural features are found almost wholly in the southwest corner of Maine, for there alone is seen the quaint architecture which finishes a landscape. Farther north and east we must seek only for natural beauty, and we shall not seek in vain.
SIR WILLIAM PEPPERELL HOUSE, KITTERY
The visitor should be warned against disappointment and hasty judgments. He may light upon a Maine county which, while fertile, is singularly bare of picturesqueness. Such regions abound in every state. This is so true that a person marked by good judgment in most matters, once made the statement that there was little beauty in Maine. It is not until we seek the picturesque that we find Maine to be superior to most states in this quality. It is necessary to turn off, following the various peninsulas of the shore, or, in the inland, t0 seek the hill roads. What more charming short ride than that in North Edgecomb, which leads to the old block house? The narrow roads about Wiscasset, Damariscotta, and Camden are often productive of revelations of superb outlines. Skirting the lake regions, in the lower counties like Oxford, fair scenes are open, capable of satisfying demanding tastes. One must follow the margins of the bays and rivers to find what Maine is like. The main road being the shortest line between large centers, is likely to be of slight interest.
THE LONGFELLOW HOUSE, PORTLAND
One finds little help by making inquiries. A beautiful road is, in the thought of your informant, a smooth one. One cannot depend upon the judgment of the casual citizen. There is, indeed, one sort of beauty which he loves and mentions. He tells you ever of high view-points, and these are worth while. Many such outlooks include great stretches of lake and forest. Beyond that class of views your informant is without information or imagination. He cannot see, until they are pointed out, the intimate and charming compositions which exist in the nooks and curves of valleys and brooks. The delights of the fence corners, of the dells, of the stone walls, are an unopened book. Yet, when he is shown these things in picture, he has the capacity of admiration. As a consequence one must seek for himself the beauties of Maine. This work merely points out such as have appealed to the writer. Doubtless a dozen more volumes, each containing many delightful details could be compiled. As an instance of the numerous fine compositions that abound in narrow range, we venture to state that in the circuit of two miles, from one small Maine village, we have recorded no less than two score of pictures, each almost as good as any we have ever seen. It would not be fair to say that the same could be done about every Maine village. There are numerous bare and uninteresting hamlets. But, given one long summer season, a discerning seeker might readily find two villages every week as entrancing in their environment, and as fruitful in composition, as that village to which we have referred.
The approaches to the northern counties are by excellent gravel roads. But as soon as one passes into the forests, it is astonishing what spaces there are without a dwelling. It is said that across one county by the central, though not the principal, route, there is one house in eighteen miles. This does not at all indicate that the region is not attractive for dwellings, so far as nature is concerned. It merely indicates that in this generation a family is no longer a community, as it used to be, when there were enough individuals in one family to constitute a school. We do not refer, in these remarks, to Aroostook county, where the natural wealth is so great, and the sturdier fashions are so much more generally retained, that the inhabitants have spread themselves more over the land. We remember, however, one road in a county not far from Portland where we were told at a dwelling that it was the last one for three miles. The approaches to Moosehead from various directions are also, in their northern reaches, delightfully quiet solitudes. There is an unique joy in the seclusion of these roads. As Wilfred and I tramped seventeen miles for an especially desirable view of Katahdin, he suddenly broke forth, after a long silence; "This is what I like." We had not seen a dwelling or a human being for many miles. Probably there are myriads of persons who never experienced real solitude, and to whom it would be a delightful novelty. Of course, many persons are distressed by silence. But most of our work, as humans, is so unsightly, so out of harmony with nature, and so ephemeral, that it is good to be where everything remains as it was from the beginning.
It requires, however, a drive over these long woodland stretches to enlighten one who asks why there are not more fine roads in Maine. It is a constant wonder, as we stretch away mile after mile, through the uninhabited forest, how the people of Maine have the enterprise and generosity to give us these delightful thoroughfares.