Stretched between Waldoboro and Thomaston, Warren is a farming and rural community with a number of small industries and commercial establishments—principally along Route 1 and Route 90. You’ll find the village center a few blocks away from both of those highways. Warren is home to several recreational lakes and ponds, campgrounds, and seasonal cottage/vacation rentals.
Waldoboro, situated along the banks of the Medomak River in eastern Lincoln County, is adjacent to Warren and bisected by U.S. Route 1, approximately 18 miles west of Rockland. The town center, which is several blocks away from Route 1, still retains the grace and charm of an earlier era. Waldoboro was once host to shipyards which launched fleets of schooners in the great age of sail; a well-preserved village reflects that early prosperity. The best place to learn about this seafaring, fishing and farming community – settled by Germans in the mid-1700s – is at the Waldoborough Historical Society Museum, just off Route One on Route 220 South (Main Street). Remnants of its early German heritage can be seen at the Old German Meeting House and Cemetery and at the local historical museum. Once noted for building large, multi-masted sailing vessels, Waldoboro is today a pleasant town with a number of agricultural, commercial, and industrial enterprises. Shops, stores, restaurants, the Waldo Theatre, and small lodging facilities may be found on U.S. Route 1 and in the town center.
The Vinalhaven Chamber of Commerce welcomes you to this island community 15 miles off the coast—the largest of the 14 year-round island towns of Maine. The community takes pride in the natural beauty of the island, its multi-generational families, school, volunteer fire and emergency medical services, musical and theatrical talents, and its residents’ neighborly way of looking out for each other. Followed closely by tourism, lobster fishing is the largest component of Vinalhaven’s economy, with a diverse group of smaller businesses working to meet the needs of this active community. The village of Vinalhaven, located on the southern shore of the island, is the center of commercial activity.
The town of Union lies about 15 miles west of Rockland on Route 17, at the center of Knox County’s inland agricultural region. Union is noted for its blueberry fields, dairy farms, apple orchards, wood lots and sparkling lakes and ponds—a distinction it shares with the neighboring towns of Appleton, Hope, and Washington. With a backdrop of low coastal mountains, rolling hills, and quiet valleys, Union’s charm extends to all seasons—but offers a special visual treat when its wooded hills and blueberry fields explode with color in fall. The Union Common provides a classic rural northern New England village setting with small businesses encircling a public green. Union is also the site of one of Maine’s oldest agricultural fairs. Lodging accommodations include campgrounds and seasonal cottage/vacation rentals.
Thomaston, with its tree-lined streets and beautiful village green, overlooks the head of the St. George River Estuary. World-class yachts are built along the shore, and stately sea captains’ homes grace nearly every block in the community. This year, the 175-year-old Maine State Prison has been razed, and the result is a fantastic view of the St. George below. The town is also the site of Montpelier, the replica of the home of George Washington’s Secretary of War—General Henry Knox—now a living museum.
The biggest event of the year in Thomaston is its rousing Fourth of July celebration. A parade marches down Main Street during the day and fireworks brighten the night each year, as Thomaston hosts the primary Independence Day event in the Mid-Coast area.
The village of Tenants Harbor, mid-way down the St. George peninsula on Route 131, is the administrative center of town. In a picturesque coastal setting, its well-protected harbor is home to both fishing boats and pleasure craft in season. The harbor is a favorite anchorage for yachts sailing along the Maine coast. Visitors will find several lodging facilities and dining establishments, along with a few shops and art galleries.
Primarily a fishing and lobstering community, St. George is made up of several distinct villages—Clark Island, Wiley’s Corner, Martinsville, Tenants Harbor, and Port Clyde. Although the harbor villages of Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde are the best known (and most visited), you’ll find lodging establishments, dining facilities, art galleries, and small businesses all along the diverse and beautiful coastal town.
South Thomaston is a scenic peninsula community south of Rockland and Thomaston, and adjacent to Owls Head. It’s comprised of three primary villages and several distinct sections: the town center, known locally as the “Keag” (pronounced “Gig”) after the reversing tidal Weskeag River that flows through it; Spruce Head; and Spruce Head Island, a major lobstering port. Businesses include lodging facilities, a campground, seasonal cottage/vacation rentals, stores, art galleries, small shops, and oceanfront and open air seafood dining in the summer season.
Rockport’s snug harbor celebrates boats and boatbuilding, and its Marine Park attractions feature historic lime kilns and a granite statue of Andre the Seal, whose heartwarming story and performance antics over 20+ years still delight children through books and a movie. Rockport’s other notable animal residents are Aldermere Farm’s Belted Galloway “Oreo cookie” cows, who graze in meadows along bucolic Russell Avenue. Visit the nearby Children’s Chapel for its beautiful plantings and distant ocean views; this peaceful setting is also popular for outdoor weddings. Within the village and along Route 1, several shops, galleries, and restaurants complement the town’s laid-back mood. Schooner daytrips and kayak rentals pass nearby Indian Island lighthouse.
Still rooted in its historic past, Rockland‘s downtown is a designated National Historic District, with vivid examples of Italianate, Greek Revival, and Colonial architecture. Here you’ll find a small city experiencing a renaissance, anchored by the first-class Farnsworth Art Museum and the Wyeth Center. Home to a substantial collection of Wyeth family artworks, the Farnsworth is one of the finest regional art museums in the country, with a specialized collection focusing on Maine’s role in American art. Today, Main Street is filled with boutique shops, galleries, and a delightful array of gourmet restaurants and quaint coffee shops. Rockland is the retail center of Mid-Coast Maine.
Rockland Harbor is home to more windjammers than any other port in the country. Over a dozen historic schooners sail these waters just as they did a century ago. Offering weeklong excursions as well as daytrips around the islands of Penobscot Bay, the sight of schooner sails on parade past the historic Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is a vision to behold.
Rockland has been called the “Lobster Capital of the World”—both for its importance to the East Coat lobster industry and for the world famous Maine Lobster Festival, now in its 57th year. No trip here is complete without a Maine lobster dinner—fresh from local waters and easy on your wallet. The lobster boat fleet is an important part of the area’s heritage and economy, and a scenic treasure as well. Rockland also boasts a thriving music scene, capped each year with the North Atlantic Blues Festival that fills the waterfront and downtown with the blues every July.
Shipbuilding, commercial fishing, granite quarrying, and lime kilns represent a major part of Rockland’s economic history and have left a lasting mark on the area.
You’ll not want to miss Port Clyde, at the end of the peninsula on Route 131, a classic small Maine fishing village, devoted chiefly to lobstering—but also offering facilities for recreational boaters and tourists. Near its wharves, Port Clyde boasts a general store, shops, art galleries, restaurants, and a limited number of small lodging facilities. It’s also where you catch the daily ferry to Monhegan Island. You’ll find one of the most photographed places in our area a short distance from the village center: Marshall Point Light (made famous in the film “Forrest Gump”), which serves as a sentry at the entrance to the harbor. The former lightkeeper’s house is now a historical museum open to the public in season.
Residential and scenic Owls Head, originally part of South Thomaston, became a town in 1921. Some say the name was coined by sailors who observed the tall headland and imagined a resemblance to the neck and head of an owl. Others claim the name was derived from the Native American word Mecadacut, meaning “owls head”. Popular with photographers, Owls Head Light was built in 1825 as an entrance beacon to Rockland Harbor. Birch Point Beach State Park offes swimming and picnicking.
One of Maine’s 14 unbridged island communities, North Haven lies in Penobscot Bay approximately twelve miles from the midcoast City of Rockland. It is served by a Maine Department of Transportationferry making three round trips a day from Rockland. Its year-round population of 381 (2000 Census) swells in July and August with the return of families who own seasonal homes on the island.
Monhegan is undoubtedly the most famous island in Maine, thanks in large measure to the art of George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Jamie Wyeth, and many others who have been drawn to paint its dramatic cliffs—the highest on the New England coast. These artists are credited with popularizing the island, whose summer population is tenfold that of the winter. Located ten miles out to sea, Monhegan is 1.4 miles long and .7 miles wide. A wildlife sanctuary with more than 600 varieties of wildflowers and 200 species of birds—including peregrine falcons, ospreys, and northern harriers (marsh hawks)—and a peaceful stretch of spruce and moss called Cathedral Woods make Monhegan attractive to naturalists and hikers. Its 17 miles of trails and breathtaking walks, inns, shops, artists’ colony, museum, swimming beach (for hardy souls who like cold ocean water), and lighthouse make this a trip worth taking.
Located about 20 miles south of Rockland and the most remote of the inhabited year-round islands, Matinicus is an Indian name meaning alternatively “grassy islands” or “the place of the wild turkeys.” Matinicus Harbor is one of the few in Maine that’s home to almost exclusively working vessels. It’s almost two miles long and one mile wide, with about 750 acres filled with hundreds of species of plants. The shores are rocky—the eastern shore being mostly granite—but there are two large beaches with beautiful fine graying-white sand, as well as numerous small pebble beaches. Matinicus has some cottage rentals and one bed & breakfast. The small village has a single post office. Staying at Matinicus Island is much like going back in time: arrivals and departures, comings and goings—indeed life itself moves at a pace set by wind, weather, and tides.
One of the smallest local towns in population but the largest in area, Lincolnville spans two settlements, each with its own personality and attractions. At broad Lincolnville Beach, sections of sand and pebbles (depending on the tide) draw visitors for play and relaxation. The shallow water is ideal for wading on a warm day. Also here, you can visit a cluster of shops and restaurants or hop the ferry to quiet Islesboro. Look for two cannons placed (but never used) to repel the British in the War of 1812. Drive inland to Lincolnville Center’s rolling farmland, scenic ponds, and one of the area’s three wineries.
The first European settled in Hope in the 1780s as an expansion of Camden, with the town center at Hope Corner, the intersection of Routes 105 and 235. Farming was the backbone of Hope’s economy until recently. Alford Lake Girls’ Camp, one of America’s oldest, was founded in Hope in 1907 and is still thriving.
Glen Cove lies immediately north of Rockland on U.S. Route 1. Defined by picturesque Clam Cove near the highway, Glen Cove includes a roadside picnic area that has a panoramic view of the cove and Penobscot Bay. A number of small to mid-sized visitor lodgings in this area have stunning views of the bay and Clam Cove. Pen Bay Medical Center and the offices of a host of physicians and other health care professionals are also located here.
Friendship is predominantly a fishing village whose major industry is lobstering and associated enterprises. Located west of Cushing on the same peninsula, Friendship the birthplace of the distinctive Friendship Sloop. Originally used as a fishing boat, the Friendship Sloop is now prized for recreational sailing. The Friendship Museum displays historical information on this unique vessel, as well as local historical artifacts. The Nelson Nature Preserve, on Route 97 just north of the village, has five miles of public hiking trails. Friendship has a few retail establishments, but dining facilities are limited. Visitor accommodations include bed & breakfast lodging places and seasonal cottage/vacation rentals.
Cushing, situated on its own peninsula southwest of Thomaston, is famous for its saltwater farms and is at the heart of Maine’s “Wyeth Country.” The Olson House—immortalized by Andrew Wyeth’s paintings of the structure and its occupants, Christina and Alvaro Olson—is a widely recognized icon of the region. Another attraction is the Cushing Historical Society Museum on Hathorn Point Road. Cushing is primarily a rural residential community with few commercial enterprises. There’s a general store, a few B & Bs, and seasonal cottage/vacation rentals. To reach Cushing, take Wadsworth Street from U.S. Route 1 in Thomaston at the Maine State Prison Showroom Store. It may also be reached from Route 97 in Warren.
Voted the prettiest harbor in Maine in 2009, Camden harbor’s mix of working and pleasure craft includes a fleet of windjammer schooners, which began operating tourist cruises in 1936. Two-hour daytrips and three- to five-day live-aboard cruises depart from the Public Landing. Camden and adjacent Rockport harbor moorings also welcome small and large private vesels, drawn by deep water, a well-stocked port, and several boatbuilders, marinas, and storage and repair facilities. Each September, a family-friendly Windjammer Festival keeps the area’s maritime traditions alive through schooner open houses, lobster crate races, a chowder cook-off, marine crafts demonstrations, and free live entertainment.
For more insight into this area’s history, pick up the Historic Downtown Camden walking-tour map, identifying buildings that began as boathouses, woolen mills, ship captain’s homes, and the former theater where “Peyton Place”, filmed here in 1956, had its world premiere. In July and August, the Camden-Rockport Historical Society opens its 18th-century Conway Homestead and Cramer Museum.
Linger a while on the shady Village Green and view a classic New England scene: church spire, post office, and shopping bustle. Stroll to Harbor Park and its Amphitheatre, sit on the seawall to watch the harbor traffic and the Megunticook River waterfall, explore the gardens and trails at 66-acre Merryspring Nature Center, or wind along Bay View Street and Beauchamp Point, where shore views peek in and out, passing rambling cottages built by summer folk from Boston, New York, and Philadelphia during the age of steamboat travel.
This scenic coastline nestles into the Camden Hills, among them Mount Battie, part of Camden Hills State Park. From its 790-foot summit, reached by 26 miles of hiking trails and an auto road, the panorama stretches from Rockland and its islands to the Blue Hill peninsula. Camden resident and Pulizer Prize-winner Edna St. Vincent Millay immortalized this vista in her 1912 poem “Renascence”: “All I could see from where I stood was three long mountains and a wood. I turned and looked the other way and saw three islands in a bay.” On the shore side of U.S. Route 1, the park contains hiking trails and picnic areas.
Facing inland, Mount Battie’s stone tower offers dramatic views to Lake Megunticook–popular for summer boating, fishing, and swimming–and Ragged Mountain, site of the Camden Snow Bowl. This four-season recreation area offers tennis, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and February’s annual national toboggan championships.
Shops in Camden’s compact downtown offer clothing, jewelry, gifts, art supplies, toys, home furnishings, and more–all within walking distance of the harbor, dining, and lodging. Many authors, musicians, and artists call this area home, so there are several bookstores and galleries, as well as the HarborArts show in July and October.
Inland from Camden and Hope, Appleton was incorporated in 1829 from the former Appleton Plantation and expanded its boundaries from adjacent Hope in 1843. Appleton Ridge Road offers long views of Sennebec Pond and many rock walls creaed during the area’s days when farming and lumbering were major industries.