Celebrate Two Towns Bicentennial By Discovering Maine’s Down East Heritage Trail
By Resident Jim Harnedy
Just off the beaten path at the foot of the University of Maine at Machias College Hill where Routes 1 and 92 intersect an amazing 11 mile trek steeped in history, culture and exciting natural wonders awaits the adventurous.
Route 92 in Machias is Elm Street. The first stop on the trail is at “Bad Little Falls”, located just as one turns onto Route 92. Machias is derived from the Native American word Mechises which means bad little falls or a bad run of water. “Bad Little Falls Park” offers a perfect setting for a picnic and has ample parking for checking out this natural wonder. After savoring the beauty of the falls and the splendid view the park provides, one can walk up Elm Street (Route 92) a little less than .1 of a mile to Avery Street. Turn left down Avery Street to O’Brien Cemetery.
The cemetery dates back to Colonial Days. Buried here is Colonel Jeremiah O’Brien who commanded the local patriots in their land and sea resistance to the British Crown. The vastly undermanned and under equipped patriots on their ship Unity were able to capture the British schooner Margaretta in Machias Bay in July 1775 with the loss of only one American life. This battle has been called the Lexington of the Sea.
Upon leaving the cemetery you can start your drive south on Route 92 and two (2) miles down the road you will cross into the town of Machiasport.
At the 3.7mile point of your journey you will find on your right Liberty Hall. It was built in 1873 in a bold Italianate architectural style at a cost of $ 1000.00. Its architect was Andrew Gilson of Machias. The building served as the Machiasport town hall until 2000 and in addition to its purely civic functions served as a community center for theater productions, lectures, festivals and basketball games. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Over the past several years this Victorian landmark has undergone a major restoration.
Diagonally across the street from Liberty Hall is the historic Gates House which was built c.1807. The home was purchased by Nathan Gates and his family occupied it for nearly 120 years. Since 1966, it has served as a museum and headquarters for the Machiasport Historical Society. In 1975, it was entered on the National Register of Historic Places. During the summer the museum with its wonderful maritime exhibits is open to the public.
Approximately .2 of a mile south on Route 92 from Liberty Hall and the Gates House on a steep bluff overlooking Machias Bay is the historic Machiasport Congregational Church. This church was built just two years after incorporation of the town in 1828. The church possesses one of the most picturesque settings of any church in New England.
Fort O’Brien State Park is a must stop on the Down East Heritage Trail. It is just off Route 92 about .2 of a mile south of the Congregational Church. Here you will find a great spot to hike and picnic as well as enjoy a spectacular view of Machias Bay where the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War was successfully fought.
South on Route 92 approximately one mile, you will find on your left Clark Point Road (also known as Birch Point). Down at the waters edge on a ledge has been found the site of ancient petroglyphs that were carved into the rocks as long as 3000 years ago by members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. It is believed that ancestors of present day Passamaquoddy people have lived in the region for as many as 12,000 years. These picture rocks tell the rich history and culture of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
Nine (9) miles south on your adventure, you will see to your left Pettegrow Point Road, as you turn onto Pettegrow Point Road you will see an old c.1890 cape and barn. The completely finished off cow barn is the home of the Blue Lobster Gallery a fine art gallery.
Proceeding down Pettegrow Point Road approximately .8 of a mile you will come to the Bucks Harbor Public Pier. Here you will have an opportunity to see the Bucks Harbor fishing fleet. If you are looking for some great fresh Maine lobster, you will find BBS Lobster next to the town pier.
Now its time to go back up Pettegrow Point Road .8 of a mile to the intersection of Route 92 (Port Road) and take a left onto Route 92. You are again heading south and just short of a mile on your left you will find Jasper Beach. Wave polished pebbles of jasper and rhyolite give it a distinctive color. There is only one other jasper beach in the world and it is in Japan.
Two (2) miles south of Jasper Beach Park on Route 92 is the village of Starboard. Here you will see a fully equipped boat yard, a one-room school that served the community from 1804 to 1938 and a beautiful beach. At low tide you can walk on a sandbar out to the “Point of Maine”.
Maine’s Down East Heritage Trail offers an opportunity to not only discover a piece of our American heritage but a time to be renewed in body and spirit by the sights and sounds of the sea around you. Captain Cates B&B on Port Road in Machiasport offers a way to extend one’s stay in this very special area.
- Special Summer Events Along the Trail
- July 27th Machiasport Bicentennial Celebration Day
- Aug. 3rd Bucks Harbor Regatta – Port & Starboard Club
- Aug. 17th Fireworks Celebration – Bucks Harbor
- Aug. 24th Historical Society Annual Lobster Lunch – 11am-2pm
C. 2013 Jim Harnedy