Gateway for tourism best describes Ellsworth, Maine, which is one busy place from May to September. If you’re motoring to Acadia National Park or Bar Harbor, you will pass through this town. Do yourself a favor and stop in awhile, just don’t expect to find any sidewalk seating because there isn’t any downtown.
Here’s a quirky fact, founded in 1800, the city is named for Oliver Ellsworth, lawyer, politician, Continental Congress member, and third U.S. Chief Justice. So you would think he was a native son or connected to Maine in some way? NOT, true Ellsworth was a New Englander – BUT from Connecticut – born, lived, died and buried there. Maybe someone in the city naming dept. was having a bad day? But then, Jim Thorpe, PA is also named after someone who was never born or lived there.
Way in the back of the store, the former Newbury sign is hanging on the wall . The new store sign is very similar in lettering style.
Ellsworth is referred to as down east (or downeast). Downeast towns include the southeastern part of Maine: Lubec, Calais, Eastport, Machias, Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Ellsworth and Acadia National Park.
The term down east is associated with New England. Sailors hauling cargo to the northeast of New England, observed that the prevailing winds came from the southwest, pushing their schooners “downwind” in an easterly direction. Today it is associated with the state of Maine.
Ellsworth has been through two disasters in the 20th century. In 1923, the Great Flood surged along the Union River and washed away many wharves and warehouses and marked the end of Ellsworth's prominence as a shipping center, including the metal bridge. A concrete bridge was finished in 1924.
The other disaster – The Great Fire of 1933 – ravaged most of Ellsworth's downtown commercial district, on the east side of the Union River. New buildings were built in brick, mainly in Art Deco style and the unique Ellsworth City Hall dates from this period.
John Edwards Market is an upscale organic market and grocery store featuring Maine products, freshly brewed coffee, cookies, fresh baked goods, wine, and lots of local produce. We were very envious.
Grenville and I took a walking tour through Ellsworth on an overcast day that did not include rain (yeah). And, since you couldn’t join us, come on along through these photos, but we couldn’t include the cup of coffee and home-made donut we enjoyed along the way (sorry).
And (finally) HERE it is – fall color (more to come).
And, some good ole New England fog … LOTS more of that to come.
After leaving Ellsworth, Grenville opted for a scenic route that took us through Winter Harbor, Maine, a classic down east fishing village in Hancock County. Ready for another town name story? This one is much less complicated – the town got its name because the harbor did not freeze over in winter. For obvious reasons, this made it an attractive port for the local fishermen and today, it still has a full active fleet of lobster boats, which we spotted despite the fog.
Did I mention we have seen lots of fog this week?
This weekend (weather permitting) the adventures continue with a 10-mile train trip on the Downeast Scenic Railroad from Ellsworth on the historic Calais Branch Line to Ellsworth Falls, then to Washington Junction and back to Ellsworth. Grenville is a train buff and had to see the trains before the trip.
Are we having FUN or what?