A Travellerspoint blog

Day 42 (10.13.07) - Calais to Eastport, Maine

Talk about not going anywhere, but we sure do have fun in the process!

overcast 55 °F

Miles Driven: 34
Weather: Overcast, cold wind (mid 50's F)

When we got to Calais last night, we couldn't find an RV park, so we stayed at the local Wal-mart. I am starting to feel real kindly towards those folks (but I wish their parking lots were flatter!) It was kind of funny, because as I turned up the hill we'd been told to go, Mom was sure we were lost and should turn around. Just as she said this, there was Wal-mart. Also on the corner we turned was an SDA church. Mom hadn't been able to go to church the previous week, and as today was Saturday and we knew exactly where the church was, this morning I drove her the whole half mile back down the hill to the church.

The church was built in 1832. It had an interesting wooden fan pattern over the windows. Mom said the pews were also arranged in a semi-circle pattern, which is a little unusual.


After the service was over, we meandered downtown to locate the Downeaster Museum - which was closed, but the visitors center was in the same building and it was open (it also had wi-fi, so I put up the short placeholder blog for yesterday and checked email before leaving). By the way, I tried to find out why the area is called "Down" East - but the official answer is that nobody is sure, it may have something to do with the prevailing winds, or may not. Either way, we again picked up plenty of brochures at the visitors center, enough to fill 8 months worth of Maine sightseeing that we won't have time for (just like every other state we've been in). We also found out that unfortunately, the Roosevelt Cottage on Campobello Island was closed. We decided not to cross the border just to stroll the grounds, we were interested in the cottage (and associated history) , so we crossed it off the list...

Finally about 3 PM we started out of Calais. At the visitors center, Mom had inquired about the note on the map that said the city was founded in 1604. It turned out it wasn't actually Calais (pronounced Cal-uss) but St. Croix Island. The French built a settlement on this Island in 1604. They thought an island would be more defensible than the mainland (but it also had inadequate food and water supplies, which they learned that winter).


It was quite well populated and provisioned for the time, but lost about half it's people over the winter to scurvy so the French took down their buildings and relocated to Port Royal in 1605 where they built a much more successful colony. There is now an International Heritage Park on the mainland overlooking St. Croix Island with many interpretive signs and a model of the French settlement:


Just to the side of the park was a small waterfalls. I'm not sure how well this shows up, but it was definitely root beer colored (unlike the one we saw in Wisconsin that had been advertised as such). Tannin in the woods causes the water color.


Another thing we had learned at the Calais Library was that there had been a lot of Stinson's in Eastport, so when I saw the Eastport turnoff, we took it. Like Hull, in Massachusetts, Eastport is off a long spit (about 7 miles out) - although technically it is on an island (Moose Island), it is connected to the mainland by a causeway. The town sign proclaims it to be the easternmost city in the US (although Lubec is the easternmost 'town' in the US - they aren't very far apart).


We didn't find any Stinson's in Eastport, there may be some but we were there on a weekend and all the knowledgeable people were gone. We did find out that Eastport (population slightly under 2,000) had once been a major hub of sardine canning. We learned that there was a "Chowder House" down the road, that Saturday night (tonight) was it's last night open for the season, it might have been the location of the old Stinson wharf and cannery and it had a bunch of old photo's inside. So with all those 'might be's in mind, we headed off to the "Chowder House". I probably wore out my welcome asking people questions, but we had a great dinner and met some really nice people.


Nobody was quite sure if that was where the Stinson Cannery had been at one time. the menu says it had been the Martin Cannery and that a Jack and Betty Stinson ran a restaraunt at the location for about 10 years beginning in 1968. We did find a couple of interesting photo's - one stating the cannery in the photo was the largest one in the world at that time:


Also, Mom noticed this photo outside the restrooms and swears the man on the right looks just like a picture she saw once of her grandfather (Charles Kingsbury Stinson). This wouldn't be CKS of course, as he lived in Boston, but could certainly be related (I'm sorry the quality isn't better, it was quite dark and I had to use a flash - not the best conditions).


Anyway, I wandered around the place and thought the rocky shoreline and small, offshore islands looked a lot like Puget Sound, WA:


Bob, the owner of the "Chowder House" is also in the Lobster business (as are many in Eastern Maine in various fashions). There were two lobster boats coming in that night and he invited a couple of us to watch them weigh the lobsters that came in. What they do is sort the lobsters, big ones are worth more per pound, then weigh the catch. Bob buys the lobsters from the boat then either uses them in his restaraunt or sells them. He also provides fuel and bait (herring) to the fishing boats.

Here some of the fishermen are weighing their catch:


These are the smaller lobsters they brought in. They said that 2007 so far has been very bad, that last year they would have had many more and much larger lobsters by this time during the season.


Finally, here is a load of herring ready to be loaded onto the boat to go back out to sea as bait.


I learned a few more things about the lobster industry in Maine from Bill and his wife Jane, who sold bait to Bob. They also told me about another Stinson Cannery that was still in operation (but now by Bumblebee, as in the Tuna company), so we may try to track that down.

Bob said we could park the RV there for the night and use his wi-fi. When I tried to access the wi-fi from the parking lot, I couldn't get a signal (e.g., no blog update tonight either), but it was pretty late so we decided to just park for the night anyway.

Hopefully you haven't lost complete interest with all these late blog updates - but it just isn't worth paying international roaming rates to do this!

Posted by jl98584 19:54 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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