Another who knew tidbit, Belfast, Maine once called itself the “Broiler capital of the world.”
Belfast, the county seat of Waldo, is located at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River on Penobscot Bay. Settled by Scots-Irish families from Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1770, it was named after the Northern Irish city of the same name after a coin toss.
Hundreds of wooden sailing ships were built in local shipyards. During the 19th century and most Belfast men worked in maritime trades. The Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad (see Grenville’s post) connected Belfast to the Maine Central Railroad at Burnham Junction.
By 1948, Maplewood Poultry Co. and Penobscot Poultry were big businesses in the area. Chicken houses dotted the landscape throughout Waldo County. Maine ranked 10th nationally in broiler processing. By 1979, the state’s last two poultry processors, Maplewood Poultry Company and Penobscot Poultry, were in Belfast. Both closed by the end of the decade.
Chickens left and artists entered. Former downtown stores were replaced with galleries and gift stores. Credit card company MBNA moved to the city in the 1990s, purchased and razed the abandoned Penobscot Poultry processing plant on the waterfront, and converted the site into a city park.
Belfast has an old-time Main Street that runs from the post office down to the harbor. And, Here’s where you will find America’s oldest shoe store – Colburn Shoe Store, established in 1832, run by the same family, and still open for business.
YES, that’s Hawthorne atop the landmark Colonial Theatre roof. The Colonial Theatre has been a Belfast fixture since 1912, opening on the day the Titanic set sail. Hawthorne and a smaller statue, Baby Hawthorne were outside Perry’s Nut House, a local Rte 1 roadside attraction which was liquidated in 1997. The statues were rescued by the Colonial Theatre owners. Hawthorne took up residence on the roof; Baby Hawthorne is in the lower lobby. The theatre was closed the afternoon we visited so no peeks inside.
No Belfast visit would be complete without stopping at Renys – A Maine Adventure. Locals claim that “If Renys doesn't have it, I don't need it!” Reny’s, a chain of Maine discount stores, has been a Maine shopping tradition since 1949 when Robert H. Renys opened the first store in Damariscotta. There are now 14 stores.
Belfast harbor is a great place to visit whether by boat or just by a walk along the dock. Various types of sailing
It’s also a great place to enjoy the colors of autumn.