Monday, January 25, 2010

Rockland Breakwater Light - Rockland, ME

The Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse rises prominently along Rockland’s coast. Its history dates back to the time when the thriving limestone industry dominated the Maine industry for two centuries. Limestones were heated in kilns to produce the sought-after lime which was used in building construction. The lime export, along with shipbuilding, fishing and fish processing fueled Rockland’s economy, as well as ice harvesting, granite quarrying, and steamship transportation. Rockland’s harbor was the busiest during these times.

In the late 1800’s, a breakwater made of granite was built to protect the harbor. It was almost a mile long. Over 700,000 tons of granite were used and a quarter of a million dollars was spent for this breakwater. A beacon was established and it was moved because the breakwater was extended several times. Charles Ames, the light attendant was hired to keep watch and he struck a metal triangle whenever a fog signal was needed. He was given $25 a month for his job. This was the beginning of the Rockland Breakwater Light.

In 1902, the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse was established. Congress gave $30,000 for its construction. The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse was made out of a 25-foot brick tower. A keeper’s house made of wood was attached to a brick fog signal building. The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse was equipped by a fourth-order Fresnel lens. On October 30, 1902, the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse was lighted for the first time.

In the 1960s, the Coast Guard said that they would dismantle the structure. Amid public clamor against the destruction of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, the Samoset Resort took over the upkeep of this historic structure. In 1998, the Rockland City Council took over the upkeep of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse under the Maine Lights Program.

According to the Rockland City Council, this move was a way to preserve their history because the Rockland Breakwater Light is central to their heritage. The emblem and letterhead of the City of Rockland bear the image and symbol of the Rockland Breakwater Light.

In 1999, volunteers started to restore the Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse. Now, the Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse boasts of a float and a ramp so that people can access the restored site without having to walk the Rockland Breakwater. In 2003, the interior of the lighthouse was also restored. A mahogany bench was also placed on the boat deck so tourists can enjoy the view from the Rockland Breakwater. Tourists can also enjoy the Rockland Breakwater and the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse by taking a boat trip on one of the ferries that travel pass the Rockland Breakwater on their way to the islands of Vinalhaven and North Haven.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rockland, Maine - Gateway to Penobscot Bay

Rockland, Maine is the first town you will see when you want to tour Penobscot Bay. Aptly named, “Gateway to Penobscot Bay,” Rockland, Maine dates back to about 200 years when it was a thriving port that supplied lime rock to the cities of the United States. Today, lobster boats cheerfully bob on the waters, proudly rubbing elbows with sophisticated yachts and schooners.

Rockland, Maine is best enjoyed when you are strolling around downtown. Downtown Rockland is a compact place and every place can be reached on foot without getting tired. When you’re raring for a long walk, why don’t you head to the Rockland Breakwater which is about a mile long and visit the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. The views that this location offers will never leave you disappointed and during the summer months, you can learn all about this seaport town through their friendly tour guides.

Several parks line the harbor front such as the Snow Marine Park, the Harbor Park, and Marie H. Reed Memorial Park. Along these parks, you will also see the Rockland Fish Pier, the Coast Guard Pier and the Maine State Ferry Service Terminal. The North End wharves are also located in this area.

Souvenir and antique hunters will surely love the quaint shops that line Main Street. If the weather is not cooperative as Maine weather usually is, you can hole up in cozy bookstores such as the Reading Corner or the Breakwater Bookland. If you’d like to learn about the history of Rockland, Maine, Maine Lighthouse Museum is open to visitors and offers a cornucopia of Coast Guard and lighthouse paraphernalia.

Rockland, Maine is also the home to a collection of paintings from three generations of the famous Wyeth family in Maine including Andrew Wyeth, N.C. Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth. Their paintings are displayed in the Wyeth Center at the Farnsworth Art Museum located on main street in downtown Rockland. The Farnsworth Art Museum also has a number of collections from Fitz Henry Lane, Edward Hopper, and Rockwell Kent. You can also relive the past by visiting the Farnsworth Homestead, the Farnsworth Museum's very own historic house. The Farnsworth Homestead offers a taste of Greek Revival architecture and has been maintained as an authentic example of an upperclass family home from mid-nineteenth century Rockland. The Museum also maintains the Olson House which was the subject of numerous works of art by Andrew Wyeth, including his well-known 1948 painting Christina's World, owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. You can visit the Olson House in Cushing, Maine which offers a taste of a Maine saltwater farm.

If the weather permits, you can take a day sail aboard a windjammer cruise of Penobscot Bay or take the ferry from Rockland to Vinalhaven or North Haven. You can do some island touring because these are places to see. Working islands such as Vinalhaven and North Haven have their own unique charm and discovering them will surely make any day very special.

Rockland, Maine holds the title, “Lobster Capital of the World” and in celebration of its seafood industry, it hosts an annual Maine Lobster Festival in the first week in August. This allows tourists to enjoy a tasty meal of Maine lobster. Rockland, Maine also hosts the North Atlantic Blues Festival.

Historical inns such as the Berry Manor Inn, Capt. Lindsey House, and Limerock Inn offer rooms full of antiques and historical character that you can never find in modern hotels. Bountiful breakfasts are served every morning in these inns and you will feel like you are living the simple countryside life.

If you would like to sample Rockland, Maine’s fine cuisine, you should not miss In Good Company which is a trendy wine bar. Brick oven pizzas and fine pastas are also offered in Café Miranda and the Gallery Café at the Prism Glass. These restaurants offer food that will surely stay with you long before you leave Rockland, Maine.

There are many things to do for the regular visitor in Rockland, Maine. The 8,000-strong population are friendly and they treat all visitors to their thriving town with respect. That is why if you’d like a one-of-a-kind harbor town experience, Rockland, Maine is a good choice.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vacationing in Camden ME - A visit to Rockport Marine Park

Rockport Marine ParkRockport Marine Park located in Rockport, Maine s a thriving tourist destination with several historical landmarks such as the restored lime kilns that date back to the early 1900s when lime production was at its peak. Rockport Marine Park is also home to the statute of Andre the Seal. Andre was adopted by Harry Goodridge, a local diver and tree surgeon who found the seal pup abandoned by his mother in the Spring of 1961. Goodridge trained the seal over the years and Andre became a local celebrity in Maine. Andre entertained tourists and visitors in Rockport’s picturesque harbor with evening shows during the summer from the late 60s until his death in 1986 at the age of 26. A statue of Andre is dedicated to the friendship that sprung from a harbor seal and the human being who cared for him.

Schooner docking at Rockport Marine ParkThose with an interest in history will appreciate the locomotive replicas that grace Rockport Marine Park. As you stroll along the park's walking paths, you will be treated with a view of one of Maine’s most scenic harbors. Daily cruises are also available with eco tours and gourmet sunset trips in which you can enjoy Maine’s seafood cuisine and the beautiful views of the local Maine coast and harbor all at the same time. For example, the cruise that sails off at 10:30 in the morning will give you three hours of sailing on Maine’s coast plus a lobster roll lunch, a good value for around 50 bucks. Rockport Marine Park is a worth a look for those who want a taste of Maine’s harbor life.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Maine Lighthouse Museum, Rockland, Maine

Maine culture would never be the same without lighthouses. Lighthouses served as beacons of hope for the wayward traveler. There was a time when the revolving lights served as a comfort for both the sailor and their families. They knew that the light could pierce the fog and guide their sailors home. Today, you can relive those moments as you visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum in the heart of the Midcoast in Rockland, Maine.

The Maine Lighthouse Museum contains the largest collection of lighthouse and lifesaving memorabilia. These artifacts remind the Maine Lighthouse Museum visitors of the heroism of the lighthouse keepers and the United States Coast Guard as they saved lives even in the most dangerous storms.

Visitors are treated to the largest collection of Fresnel lenses, working foghorns, search and rescue gear, boats, buoys, bells and ship models. All these are significant to the long history of the United States Coast Guard and Life Saving Services and pays tribute to their never-ending commitment to maritime safety. There is even an exhibit that educates the public about the role of female lighthouse keepers and the families of lighthouse keepers.

Immerse yourself in American maritime history in the Maine Lighthouse Museum. Visitors rave about the friendliness of the staff and volunteers who share with zest their knowledge and experiences to anyone who would listen. Some experienced firsthand this history as they have relations who played a part in the maritime history of the Midcoast.

Located at the waterfront in downtown Rockland, the Maine Lighthouse Museum is a tribute to all who have sacrificed their lives in providing safety amidst the uncertainties that the capricious coastal weather brings.