Maine's Down East Coast
While many areas claim to represent “Down East” Maine, those in the know understand the real Down East does not begin until you cross over to the eastern side of the Penobscot River. The lofty suspension bridge that takes Routes 1 and 3 across the river at Bucksport is the true portal, although Ellsworth (a half-hour farther east) claims to be “The crossroads of Down East Maine.” This is a place with wild, undeveloped forests, long, wide, and often shallow lakes strewn with massive boulders, rocky detritus from the glaciers that ruled the great ice age.
As Maine grew in the 1800s access to this region was primarily by schooner and later by steamship and then train. It is no wonder then that communities here developed around safe harbors or on rivers where rapids, falls or rocks stemmed inland progress.
Towns grew where paper mills sprang up. The Champion Paper Mill in Bucksport anchors the western side of this region, while on the eastern end another – the Georgia Pacific Paper Mill in Woodland – is the major employer.
The land in this part of Maine is very different. Much of it is sandy and characterized by blueberry barrens and gravel pits. The rest is mostly the opposite extreme – low and swampy. Still, two ancient granite ridge lines, their rise to the sky cut short by glaciers, are much in evidence on Mount Desert Island and in the Franklin area.
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