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There's A Lot of History Hereabouts

Fort O'Brien, located just below Machiasport, was built to protect the approaches to the Machias River during the Revolutionary War.

At Machias the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War was fought - a land and sea action which resulted in the British schooner "Margaretta" being captured by the American residents with the loss of only one man on the American side. The captain of the British craft died that night in the Burnham Tavern, a well-preserved example of a colonial inn now open to visitors. The oldest building east of Bangor, it's maintained by the local D.A.R.

The Geodetic Survey Baseline, located in a section known as Epping, north of Harrington, has played an important part in the establishing of state boundaries and property lines in northern New England and in surveying the eastern United States coast. The base line resembles nothing more than a dirt road but it stretches for five miles straight as a die and perfectly level across the blueberry barrens. Laid out in 1858, by A. D. Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin, the base line's need was stressed by the United States Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, later president of the Southern Confederacy. Davis reportedly visited the site via the Airline Road.

The Thomas Ruggles House, preserved in its original state by the Ruggles House Society, is located in Columbia Falls. Constructed after a design by Aaron Sherman of Duxbury, Mass., the house was built for Judge Thomas Ruggles, a wealthy lumber dealer, store owner, postmaster, captain of the militia and justice of the Court of Sessions. Features of the house are its intricately carved flutings and beadings and delicate garlands of tiny flowers and a flying stairway, a masterpiece for which the house is especially famous. It's open daily for inspection.

St. Croix Island, set about midway between the United States and Canada in the beautiful St. Croix River, was the scene of the first white settlement in the New World north of St. Augustine, Fla. It was here, in 1604, that Samuel Champlain and his fellow French explorer, Sieur de Monts, led a band of about 100 soldiers and traders and spent the winter. It was from this island that Champlain explored the coast of New England as far south as Cape Cod. After 35 of the settlers died, the group moved in 1805 to Nova Scotia. The island has been made a national monument.

Eastport is the birthplace of the Maine sardine business, started by Julius Wolfe in 1875. They're herring before they are canned when they're called sardines. For many decades Washington County has had 15 canneries - Eastport with five of them. Much of the activity has moved to the westward, however.

Eastport was settled in 1780, incorporated in 1798. It was seized by the British in 1814 but in 1818 was returned to the United States through the Treaty of Ghent. Fort Sullivan at Eastport, built in 1810, had a meteoric life - only four years later, on July 11,1814 when a British fleet of a dozen warships of 200 guns with troop transports hove into sight, the fortís six officers and 80 men surrendered upon demand.

At Robbinston the "Mansion House", a beautiful colonial structure, looks out across Passamaquoddy Bay. Situated just off the main highway amid a grove, it was at one time one of the show places of the valley. At first a tavern, it became the home of John N. M. Brewer, one of the first ship-builders on the St. Croix River, who launched more than 100 vessels. The house was purchased by James Shepherd Pike of Calais, editor, and later ambassador to the Netherlands. Pike entertained Charles A. Dana, Horace Greeley, Salmon P. Chase and other dignitaries here.

Pike was also a horse fancier and would race his pacers into Calais, 12 miles away. In order to time his steeds accurately, he placed a dozen red granite milestones along the highway. Erected nearly a century ago, these stones still guide the modern traveler along "the river road".

The Lincoln House in Dennysville was the home of General Benjamin Lincoln of Hingham, Mass., a wealthy "promoter" tow whom was handed over in March, 1786, that section of eastern Washington County which now includes Perry, Pembroke, West Pembroke and Dennysville.

At East Machias is the "Millstone Library", named for the two huge millstones embedded in its front walls, Headquarters for the countyís mobile library, the Bookmobile, the library also houses a huge mural of a local scene and valuable antiques.

Campobello Island, N. B., famed for its beauty, is probably best know for being the favorite summer home of the late Franklin d. Roosevelt and the setting for the play and movie about FDRís early life, "Sunrise At Campobello". The island was given to a Captain William Owen by Gov. William Campbell of Nova Scotia in answer to Owenís petition for recognition of his naval service. Owen named the island Campobello in honor of the Governor. The new owner brought from England in 1770 a group of artisans and indentured servants to start his colony and in 1771, he advertised in Boston for more settlers. The island remained a possession of the Owen family until 1881 when it was sold to a Boston syndicate, which developed it as a Summer resort. Its population has remained at about 1,200 since 1870 and the islandís two towns are picturesque fishing villages. Washington County Maine - Washington County - A Look At Downeast Maine

A Little Washington County History - At Machias the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War was fought - a land and sea action which resulted in the British schooner "Margaretta" being captured by the American residents with the loss of only one man on the American side. The captain of the British craft died that night in the Burnham Tavern, a well-preserved example of a colonial inn now open to visitors. The oldest building east of Bangor, it's maintained by the local D.A.R.

Everyone Loves Blueberries - Washington County, responsible for more than 90 percent of the nation's blueberry crop, is the world's largest producer. The glacially formed "barrens", vast rolling plains of sandy soil, are perfect for raising wild, lowbush blueberries. Thus, the growing, harvesting and processing of the blueberry is a major industry in Washington County. Nearly a quarter million acres of barrens yield an average of 30 million pounds of blueberries annually, all of which are canned within the county.

Sport Hunting in Washington County - The face of this land is a succession of valleys with ridges between, stretching from the Narraguagus to the St. Croix and beyond. The rivers that drain the valleys are born of spring-fed lakes and ponds that lie embossed in the highlands to the north, hidden away in the forests of pine and spruce, of balsam fir and hemlock. These are the haunts of the whitetail deer, the black bear and the moose, and this is the land where they are sought by the hundreds of hunters who venture forth come fall.

Native American Indian History - Although the earliest European settlers found Indians of the great Algonquin stock throughout Maine, evidence unearthed and correlated in the last fifty years has firmly established the belief that these Algonquin tribes had been preceded by an earlier, different group of men who are called Pre-Algonquin or Red Paint People. Red Paint People have been so named because each of their ancient graves contains from less than two quarts to a bushel of brilliant ocher, usually red but occasionally yellow or brown. The burial with the bodies of ocher (a mineral from which paint may be made) and stone implements, which are unlike Indian implements, distinguishes these people.

Natural Wonders - TIDES: The greatest rise and fall of tides on the shores of the continental United States occur along the Washington County coast. The tall pilings at Jonesport, Lubec and Eastport attest to the gigantic fluctuations of the ocean's level where 18-foot variations are average. Actually, the greatest tides occur way up the St. Croix River at Calais where the average is 20 feet. At certain times of the year, however, the water level will vary 28 feet every six hours or close to one inch every minute!

Beaches And Tidal Pools - No visit to Washington County would be complete without the thrill of discovering the beauty of the beaches and rocky cliffs that form the boundary between the pounding sea and the land. This narrow band between the low and high water mark is a world of its own populated with plant and animal life peculiarly adapted to living part of each day submerged by the ocean water and the rest of the time exposed to the drying sun and wind. The scene is an ever changing one as each tide slowly rearranges the pattern of the rocks, the sand and the residue from the sea.

Campobello Island - Campobello Island, N.B. is nine miles long and about three miles wide. It has two fishing villages, Welshpool and Wilson's Beach, both of them home port to many colorful vessels which go out many miles to catch fish. After you go through customs and get a friendly nod you'll climb a hill. When you get to the top, stop and turn around so you can take in the view of Lubec, Maine across the "Narrows", where, according to the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, the strongest tidal currents on the east coast flow --around 12 knots or 15 miles an hour.

Ten Exciting Places To Enjoy Yourself Absolutely Free - There are several excellent facilities in Washington County which are open to the public at no charge. All that is asked is that visitors leave the areas clean and unspoiled. Depending on the location of the site, provisions have been made so that people of all ages may enjoy picnicking, tenting, boat launching ramps, fishing, hiking and swimming.

Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge - The Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, an area comprising 28,686 acres, was established in 1937 for the protection, study, perpetuation and management of certain species of wildlife, particularly waterfowl and other migratory birds, in the area. Moosehorn is the only one of more than 540 national wildlife refuges that is devoted to the study and management of the American woodcock.

Five Great Places To Hike - If you're looking for some interesting hiking trails, you've come to the right place. Here are five locations you might want to try some of these.

Washington County Wildflowers - From the time the first Mayflower blooms between the patches of melting snow on the sunny hillsides until late in the fall the great natural lands of Washington County are filled with hundreds of varieties of wild flowers and greens. Plants have structures and abilities which suit them for living in particular environments and therefore each distinct area of seashore, woods, fields and roadsides brings forth its own individual bouquet.

Points Of Interest - When the phrase Down East came into common usage is unknown but some historians feel the description goes into the early 1600's. It is rather a puzzling phrase but as you can see from examining a map, the coast of Maine does go east but, at the same time, it runs northward too, or up. However, what early explorers quickly found out was that the prevailing winds blew from the southwest, as they do today. Therefore, they most frequently sailed with, or down the wind, as they moved to the eastward. Thence, Down East.

The Glaciers Did It - A million or more years ago the world grew very cold. Great sheets of ice formed over the northern lands, retreated, grew again, drew back and for the third time advanced far south of what is now Maine. As recently as 15,000 years ago there were tongues of the huge glaciers extending into Washington County.

The Communities Of Washington County - St. Croix Island, set about midway between the United States and Canada in the beautiful St. Croix River, was the scene of the first white settlement in the New World north of St. Augustine, Fla. It was here, in 1604, that Samuel Champlain and his fellow French explorer, Sieur de Monts, led a band of about 100 soldiers and traders and spent the winter. It was from this island that Champlain explored the coast of New England as far south as Cape Cod.

Boat Launch Sites - Washington County has some pretty good boat launching ramps on lakes and the salt water. Here is a fairly complete list of the fresh water launching sites.

Salt Water Fishing - A salt water sports fisherman, to borrow author Kenneth Roberts' words; "has always with him the clean, salt tang of the sea, the roar of waves on the ledges, the fatalistic scrutiny of clownish seagulls and is never annoyed by mosquitoes, black flies, midges or horseflies." A description which should knock fresh water fishing into a cocked hat, but won't. Nevertheless, salt water fishing in the county can offer every member of the family some wonderful thrills whether you cast from a ledge or wharf or dangle a line from one of the charter boats that ply from Red Beach, Jonesport, Cutler or Eastport. The fish to be caught include flounder, sculpin, cod, pollock, smelt, mackerel, halibut, sea bass or "stripers" and tuna, although tuna are very rare. In fishing for flounders, we notice that the most successful fishermen use worms, either the garden or sand variety; this keeps the bait from being eaten by the sculpins.

State Parks - Washington County offers several nice public parks including the ones listed on this page.

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