Wiscasset is in and is the county seat of Lincoln County, Maine. Located on the tidal Sheepscot River, it was first settled in 1663. Abandoned during the French and Indian Wars, the town was resettled about 1730 and incorporated as Pownalborough in 1760, named after Colonial Governor Thomas Pownall. In 1802, it resumed its original Abenaki name, Wiscasset, meaning – are you ready? – “coming out from the harbor but you don't see where.”
- A major tourist attraction until 1998 was two ship hulks near the U.S. Rte 1 bridge – the four-masted cargo schooners, Hesper and Luther Little. In 1932, entrepreneur Frank W. Winter bought the ships at auction for $1200. He planned to repair them, then use them to transport lumber to Boston and return with coal. Winter died in 1936 before realizing this plan. For the next 66 years, the two weathered vessels were among the most photographed Maine attractions. After a 1998 storm took out the final masts, the town removed the rotted remains from the Sheepscot River.
- Wiscasset is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the smallest church in the world located on Rte 218. The Union Church was built in 1958 by a retired Baptist minister, the late, Rev. Louis W. West. It measures 7 feet long and 4-1/2 feet across with room for 2 worshippers. Rev. West performed 10 weddings and 1 baptism in the church.
- From 1972 until 1996, Wiscasset was home to Maine Yankee, a pressurized water reactor on Bailey Point, and the only nuclear power plant in the state. In 1995, a small fire erupted and emitted a tremendous amount of smoke. A video was presented on NBC Nightly News. While the fire wasn't a serious threat, many locals believed it was a major environmental concern, resulting in several referendums to have the nuclear plant closed. It has been decommissioned and is inoperative, shutting down in 1997 reportedly when it became too costly to run due to safety and other issues.
- In 2009, the town lost a legal battle to reclaim an original copy of the Declaration of Independence that was accidentally sold by the estate of Anna Plumstead, daughter of former town clerk (from 1885-1929), Sol Holbrook. After Ms. Plumstead died 1994, the document was sold at auction. It changed hands several times and in 2002 ended up with a private Virginia collector, Richard L. Adams (founder of UUnet Technologies) who paid $475,000 for it. The State of Maine paid nearly $40,000 in legal fees seeking to reclaim it by citing a state statute that states a public document remains public until explicitly relinquished by the government. A Virginia court ruled that Adams was the rightful owner.
And, something most folks DO know – and so DO we now.
Red's Eats, a small take out stand, at the intersection of Water and Main St, directly below the Donald E. Davey Bridge on Rte 1 considered a landmark. It has been featured in magazines and newspapers, such as USA Today and National Geographic, major TV network newscasts, and on the internet. The eatery has been reputed to have “The best lobster roll in Maine.” A sign proclaims that it has a pound of lobster meat and that comes at a hefty price of up to $14-$15 based on market price. Traffic on Rte 1 often exceeds 25,000 cars a day in the summer vacation season. Some townsfolk have suggested that Red's relocate, due to the amount of congestion it causes in the village area of town
But if you plan to eat there when it’s open from May through October, be prepared for a wait. There is no inside seating with REALLY long lines and wait times of well over an hour. This was the scene we saw on Columbus Day weekend, after waiting 15 minutes in traffic on the bridge .
Grenville was hoping to give his opinion on whether or not Red’s Eats actually had best lobster roll, but he didn’t wait inline even though a week later, there were NO lines – WHY? Red’s was closed for the season.
Guess we’ll have to make a return trip so Grenville can try a lobster roll here, but after he raises a giant pumpkin or squash and wins a big cash prize – he’ll need it to buy lunch at Red’s by that time!