History of the Boothbay Region
The Boothbay Region is all about the ocean and the people who have found a way to make a living from it – fishermen and lobstermen, ship builders and sailors, innkeepers and artists, shop owners and chefs. Here are some suggestions for places to go to see and feel that history, which is evident all around you if you just know where to look. It’s not just in the pages of a book; it’s out there to explore!
- The Boothbay Region Historical Society can provide a good overview. It’s located just up the hill from the cottage (right on Townsend, up Union Street, right on Oak Street and past the Thistle Inn to # 72) and it’s open year round Wednesday-Saturday from 10:00 to 2:00.
- A boat trip on one of Cap’n Fish’s cruises (“A Little Bit O’ Maine” is especially good) or Balmy Days excursions (try the “Scenic Harbor Tour”) are a great way to get an orientation to the region’s geography and history – with some good flavorful stories to boot.
- Go the places on the East Side of the Harbor where you can see the catches come in – this is a working harbor and there are no better places to catch that understanding than at the Town Fish Pier (71 Atlantic Ave) and the Boothbay Lobster Wharf (97 Atlantic Ave). It’s easy to get there on foot over the footbridge or by car (go around the bottom of the Harbor to get to the road that you can see across the water from our deck).
- Continue on Atlantic Ave all the way to the Spruce Point Inn (the Point separates Booth Bay from Linekin Bay). This is an example of one of the grand old resorts and it is fun to just wander around the 100 acre property where “rusticators” have been coming for over 100 years to enjoy the scenery and service.
- Go to Shipbuilders Park in East Boothbay to discover how the boatbuilding trade is alive and well today as it has adapted to changing times, technologies and tastes. They have been building boats here on the Damariscotta River for a century and a half. All around you, as in this 1919 photo, are the shipyards of Washburn & Doughty, and Hodgdon Yachts. From schooners in the 19th century to patrol craft in the 21st century, for five generations the Hodgdon family has launched vessels into the river here. During their 192-year history that’s over 400 vessels! To reach the Park, go through East Boothbay on route 96. Climb the hill beyond the bridge by the Post Office and after 0.1 mile, take a left on School Street and another left in another 0.1mile at the Park sign down the steep hill to the river, where you will find an historical sign and a good canoe/kayak launch.
- Visit Burnt Island Light in Boothbay Harbor and step into a living history program with the lighthouse keeper’s family in the 1950s.
- Take a daytrip to Monhegan Island (see separate page on Activities—Boat Trips) and learn a bit more about the history of this artists’ colony (see this article by Ed Deci).
- The Hendricks Hill Museum, housed in an 1810 house on route 27 on Southport Island (2 miles past the bridge over Townsend Gut), is well worth visiting for its fascinating local collections that document life in Southport over a century and a half. It’s open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays in the summer from 11-3.
- One thing we love about Boothbay Harbor is how there is always something new to try out each year, yet it remains so much the same, just the way we remember it all winter. This photo was taken in 1919 – and if that gentleman came back nearly 100 years later, he would have no trouble finding his way! Try standing right where he was and see what has changed and what has weathered the many storms: