Saturday, October 15, 2011


Come along for the ride!
  Mexico is in Oxford County, one of the most western counties in Maine.  It was named in sympathy with Mexicos' (the Country) war for Independence from Spain (1810-1812).  Seems like there's a lot of that here in Maine, Towns named for places fighting to be free, of course we still have a lot of townships and unorganized territories with names like R4T8 (Range 4 Township 8).  Some of those even have a few residents - maybe they will incorporate and name the place Iraq.  Okay, back to Mexico.
  This is a small town with one paper mill, most of those workers live in Rumford or other surrounding towns.  The Town is located on the Androscoggin River and the Swift River flows in to the "Andy" on the southern edge of town.
  It really is a small town, population about 2000 (guess it's not really that small!) with a lot of traffic as U S Route 2 passes as the main road, and state Route 17 is also in Mexico, we'll talk more about that in a minute; actually we'll go there tomorrow.
The "mill" in Mexico
Ed McMahon worked calling bingo and as a carnival barker in Mexico starting at age 15.
Maine towns

Friday, October 14, 2011

A short trip to Belfast

Part of the working waterfront - click to enlarge/slideshow
  On our short/medium trip the other day we drove through Belfast.  Located in Waldo County and Penobscot Bay, Belfast is kind of right at the start of ships going in to Searsport or Bangor/Brewer.  It's also an easy drive, and we went there so we could use Route 3 on our way to China (see previous post).  On our way home we stopped and took some photos.
  Belfast continues to grow as it ages, it's a really nice town that has either grown or shrunk in spurts.  At the turn of the twentieth century it was shipbuilding, after World War Two came poultry processing, then it became potato processing and an empty waterfront, for the most part; and I forgot about shoes that occupied space for a while too.
  In about the 1990's or late 80's credit card servicer MBNA built a new set of buildings and had over 2000 employees when it was bought out by Bank or America, which quickly laid off a lot of workers, and emptied buildings.  Some of which have reopened with new employers, and BofA has kept some of the processing in Belfast.  It's a good thing that Maine workers are adaptable as industry comes and goes just like a heart beat; shoes, textiles, paper and pulp, lumber, shipbuilding - you name it and it's come and gone and some have come again.  In Belfast the newest to build is the Front Street Shipyard, which will, and already is, repairing and storing boats of all sizes including some very large ones.
  Belfast is always worth a visit, it a gracious and friendly place, try it for yourself.  I just found out you can click on a photo and see all of them in a slideshow, all new-all the time.
One of the shipyards in 1905
The new shipyard is still building - click to enlarge
The footbridge across the Passagassawakeag River as it enters the bay.
This photo from halfway across - click to enlarge

Thursday, October 13, 2011

China, Maine

A welcome for someone
  China is located in Kennebec County, and it was founded in 1774 and named Jones Plantation.  That name didn't stick so in 1796 it was incorporated as Harlem.  People didn't like that name either, they next chose Bloomville, but the residents of Bloomfield objected, rather strongly.  To cease all of the "name confusion" the founder/leader at the time named the Town China.  Mr. Washburn's favorite hymn was what is now known as "Jesus Loves Me" but during that time in many hymnals it was known as "China".  You can't make things like that up.
  China originally was a large area of land consisting of China, Winslow and Albion; now all separate towns.  China in the days before the Civil War was known to have a large population of Blacks, who were mostly escaped slaves, there was a settlement in China that included houses, a shingle mill, chapel and cemetery, some ruins can still be found with a lot of work.  The black families and individuals chose China because is was a "Quaker town", which wouldn't allow slave hunters so it was a safe place.
  One individual who was born in China Mr. Leroy Starret was an inventor.  His first invention was an early kind of meat chopper the Hasher.  He is better known as the inventor of the combination square, still a familiar tool.
  China is still a thriving community, we were there yesterday, known for it's China Lake which is a popular spot, the is one supermarket, several restaurants and services of all types.
A view of China Lake
Mr. Starrets' combination square, a recent version not too different from the original.
Maine Towns

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Sweden..

Midsommar Festival, held each year
  In 1870, in order to populate the state, Maine created an "Immigration Department"; headed by William W. Thomas, Jr. who had been Consul to Sweden for President Abraham Lincoln.  Mr. Thomas went to Sweden and convinced the first 51 people to immigrate to Maine.  The Town of New Sweden was formed, and eventually the Towns of Stockholm and Westmanland.
  These are agricultural areas today, and mostly successful farmers who still carry on some of the customs and celebration of Sweden.  Located in Aroostook County where the landscape and weather closely resemble parts of Sweden, of course by now they're all native born Americans who treasure their background, not unusual in the United States.
When they were "new" here they farmed with horses,
here potatoes are dug on row at a time.
This Lewiston Sun-Journal photo says it all.
Maine Towns

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Civil War Memorial
  Denmark, Maine was founded in 1807, named for the Country of Denmark who had been attacked by the British Navy.
  There are just a little over 1000 residents, at least the year round ones, I'm sure there are some "summer people" in those camps that ring Moose Pond.  The Town is located on the shores of Moose Pond and the Moose Brook outlet was used for water power for several mills when the Town was founded.
  Located in hilly Western Maine, in Oxford County it's in a beautiful location, as is most of that County, known for its' hills, lakes and gemstones.
Moose Pond
The Store is closed.
Towns in Maine

Monday, October 10, 2011

Four Season Vacations

Rangeley, between the lakes
  Rangeley is a town in Franklin County that we have been to, or through, a number of times.  We've never spent more than a morning there.  Most of my trips through have been when Hollie and I were on our way to Northern New Hampshire.
  The abundance of waters in the region is a huge draw, there are Rangeley, Mooselookmeguntic and Cupsuptic Lakes; all fairly large bodies of water.  There is a ski area here and Sugarloaf isn't far away, the views are spectacular.  In fact when you go follow Route 17 from Oquossic south and experience the "Height of Land", a turnout where you have a change to see it all at once, if you're lucky.
  For the fisherman/woman among us - this is a place to wet a line, or just take your boat for a ride, you can't go wrong.
  Photos from Wikipedia and Rangeley Public Library
Mooselookmeguntic Lake and surroundings.
A look at Rangeley Lake
The Rangeley Public Library

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bigelow Mountain

Avery Peak on right, West Peak on left
  Mount Bigelow will look different today than the photo I took yesterday, just because of from where the photo was taken.  It's located up along the "former" Dead River in Franklin and Somerset Counties of Maine.
  The Mountain was named to honor Major Timothy Bigelow, who climbed it in 1775 for observation purposes during Benedict Arnold's March on Canada, as they followed the Dead River.
  I said "former" Dead River, because it was dammed and is now Flagstaff Lake.  Flagstaff the former Town was flooded by the waters of the Lake.
  The Appalachian Trail crosses Bigelow Mountain, it's a rugged climb.  The 10,540 acre Bigelow Preserve was created in 1976 in response to a planned ski area.  The Audubon Society also uses Bigelow to observe the transit of raptors during migrations.
  It's a beautiful part of Maine that has served us well, and the namesake of my character Bigelow Bob, that I've kept on the back burner for a while because my wife thinks that's where Bob belongs.
  Photos from Wikipedia - approved for public use
The Bigelow Range seen from Sugarloaf Mountain (a ski area)
Avery Peak
South Horn and North Horn , or the two peaks.