Welcome to the heart of “Downeast” Maine and unspoiled Washington County, the country’s easternmost contiguous land. We see the sunrise first!
Maine’s greeting to its visitors “Maine the Way Life Should Be,” speaks volumes. When you think of Maine your mind probably pictures iconic lighthouses and light-keepers cottages, crashing surf on craggy rock-strewn coasts, deep forests of fragrant evergreens and birch, tranquil, cool lakes, fast flowing rivers, meandering streams, native wildlife - and blueberries. Oh my, do we ever have blueberries - and “lobstah!” Yes, it’s all here and more. We are also a place of stark contrasts and deep traditions - “Downeast” Maine will delight you, amaze you, and hold you!
Amidst New England style clapboard and cedar shake homes and businesses prominent in the area, stand the remnants of yesteryear. Here and there, historic outbuildings, storefronts, boat houses, and such still remain reflecting the not too distant past and the true indomitable character of the land and its people for they are still part of the current environment, they are its charm and draw.
Nowadays, picturesque fishing weirs still dot the waters and are joined by the more recent aquaculture pens for salmon and other fisheries, Successful cottage industries abound as the rugged coastline towns of far eastern Maine rely more and more on tourism for their sustenance. Historic homes and buildings are being repurposed for more modern usage. Artists and artisans, musicians, writers, and craft people enjoy vibrant and supportive communities, and often share their talents and wares during the many summer and early fall festivals and street fairs.
For the naturalist, world-class birding draws many aficionados each year especially to The Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge one of the northernmost National Wildlife Refuges in the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory route that follows the eastern coast of North America. The refuge provides important feeding and nesting habitat for many bird species, including waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, upland game birds, songbirds, and birds of prey. Hiking Trails are everywhere in Washington County and will meet your every hiking need or desire - from cool oceanside trails to more challenging ones that climb over rocks and rugged terrain, and for the botanist, there are even a couple of boardwalked bogs. Bring your hiking shoes.
Peculiar to this far eastern corner of Maine is its colorful coastal fishing/ lobstering towns and villages each with their own unique history, culture and resources. You’ll find little of the chain store variety of businesses that makes you think, “I could be anywhere USA.” Each community has its own history, its own peculiar briny flavor, and traditions. But most of all, they are places away and a step back in time. They are alluring and each along with its surrounding towns asserts a magnetizing pull much as the area’s extraordinary 24’ ocean tides do! You’ve stepped away from the hustle and bustle - slow down, you’re in Downeast, Maine!
Among the more populated seafaring communities are:
Lubec like Brigadoon, a mystical village perched on a hill in the morning fog, Lubec holds a secret. It once was, along with neighboring Eastport across the water - the sardine capital of the world! Lubec alone boasted 23 sardine packing plants and 30 smokehouses. These days, although still fishing and lobstering, Lubec has been transitioning to the tourism trade. In the summer months, the town is home to a wildly successful adult music camp called Summer Keys. The Program performs free concerts throughout the summer season. In town and spanning the Lubec Narrows, a thin churning, sometimes treacherous waterway between the U.S. and Canada, is the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge which connects Lubec to Canada’s Campobello Island, here you can visit the summer cottage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the 2,800 acres, pristinely beautiful, Roosevelt International Park. Bring your passport. From downtown Lubec, catch the Harbor Seals in July and August as they play in “The Narrows.”
Jonesport - Step back in time to salty, sun-bleached Jonesport. This historic fishing community sits at the end of a long peninsula that reaches 6 miles into the Gulf Of Maine. Boat building and blueberry harvesting join fishing as the main economic activities. A large fleet of fishing and lobstering boats dot the busy harbor, photo op!
The shire town of Machias hosts The Machias Wild Blueberry Festival every August. Situated at the mouth of the Machais River, this quiet college town is home to the University of Maine at Machais (UMM). Here’s an interesting fact: Machias was the site of the first naval battle in the Revolutionary War - June 12, 1775. The town’s well preserved colonial Burnham Tavern, a National Historic Site, is a museum dedicated to the telling of that story.
Eastport boasts the deepest port on the east coast and has spectacular views of the Ole Sow in Passamaquoddy Bay believed to be the biggest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere. The Island city of Eastport (Moose Island) is accessed by a causeway and passes through the town of Sipayik on the Passamaquoddy Pleasant Pt. Indian Reservation, one of two Indian reservations of the federally recognized Passamaquoddy tribe in Washington County. In downtown Eastport, charming, eye-catching art galleries and shops line the main street and offer diverse shopping, restaurants, and together with the many sponsored events and festivals - fun most all the year. Fall is gorgeous and surprisingly floral. Winter does come, it’s beautiful, a little nippy, hmmm that’s not quite right - okay, it snows - sometimes a lot, but commerce and fishing continue, and Eastport’s vibrant, thriving arts community along with a good book or two will nudge you along to spring, just fine.
Calais is located at the head of tide on the St. Croix River. Calais has three Canada–US border crossings over the St. Croix connecting to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. A city of commerce, Calais is recognized as the primary shopping center of eastern Washington Co. For your outdoor pleasure, many hiking trails and snowmobile trails are available to the sports enthusiast or you could canoe or kayak the beautiful St. Croix River! Fun fact: Did we mention that Calais possesses the one and only traffic light in the entire county?
So, we’ve talked a bit about the coast, but the interior lake and up-river towns, some unincorporated, invite you to explore them, too. Here you’ll find many communities holding to the traditional ways of working with the seasons - family farming, crabbing, wood cutting, soap making, blueberry picking, and wreathing occupy the locals and some of the new arrivals as well. And you’ll run across some interesting names, too, such as Meddybemps Lake, or Pocomoonshine Lake, two of the many beautiful lakes in eastern Washington County. The interior terrain is varied with several high ridges, mostly running north and south, affording several nice views over the lakes and countryside. Cobscook Bay State Park in Edmunds has wonderful sites right on the water just waiting for you, or stay in one of the towns listed above at either a charming B&B experiencing Maine’s local hospitality firsthand, or choose to stay at one of their convenient motels. However you travel, come, delight in our playground and consider making Washington County your home!
Here’s a partial list of summer and early fall events to attend, places to play, and trips to take:
- The Bay of Fundy International Marathon (Lubec & Campobello Isl., Canada)
- The Mary Potterton Memorial Concert Series 2019 (Lubec)
- Quoddy Head State Park & West Quoddy Head Light (Lubec)
- The Machias Wild Blueberry Festival and Craft Fair
- Calais’s International Days
- St. Croix Country Club (Calais)
- Barren View Golf Course (Jonesboro)
- Herring Cove Provincial Park Golf Course (Campobello Isl., Canada)
- Grand Lake Stream Craft and Music Fair
- Indian Days (Sipayik)
- Quoddy Bay Lobster (Eastport) Don’t miss this one!!!
- Eastport’s Pirate’s Festival & Invasion of Lubec by Water
- Eastport’s Salmon and Seafood Festival
- Whale-watching tours (Eastport, Lubec, Cutler, Jonesport)
- Machias Seal Island trips to see the summer home to spectacular nesting colonies of Atlantic puffins, Razorbills, Common murres, and Arctic terns, among others. (Cutler)
… and the positively delightful home-town 4th of July Parades!
You’re invited to tour and to visit us at one of our convenient locations in Lubec, Eastport, or Calais. This beautiful place is where we live, work, and play. We look forward to greeting you and will be happy to share our knowledge of the area while meeting your real estate needs. Come visit us *Downeast, ayuh!
*The origin of the phrase "Down East" or “downeast” is typically traced to nautical terminology. In the warm months most suitable for sailing, the prevailing winds along the coast of New England and Canada blow from the southwest, meaning ships sail downwind to go east. As such, the northeastern stretches were said to be "Down East.”