Eastport, Maine

Imagine opening up one the most recent issue of your favorite national  magazine, and while flipping through the table of contents, immediately recognizing the picture of a place that you know well.

Eastport Harbor After Dark

Well I did with the January/February issue of The Atlantic.  James Fallows visited and wrote an excellent print article titled, Eastport, Maine: The Town That Might.

Flying across a landscape on a clear day, at low altitude, always reveals things you had not known. From 1,500 feet up, about the height of the Empire State Building, you are far enough from the ground to discern patterns not visible at street level but close enough to pick out details that to airline passengers would be just blurs. From 2,500 feet above the ground, nearly the height of the world’s tallest building, you can see far enough in all directions to notice how cities interleave with suburbs, or how the course of a river, a ridge, a tree line shapes the farmland and settlements around it.

Getting to Eastport by air is certainly an expeditious and efficient mode of travel. But I recommend other ways.  The best way is to drive up Route One, turn left at Ellsworth, and leave the tourist coast of Maine while entering true DownEast, Maine.  Go through the villages like Millbridge, Columbia Falls, Machias, Whiting and Pembroke before making the right turn towards Moose Island (Eastport is on Moose Island.) Or take the quicker way across the Airline, long reaches of road through forests, across rivers and blueberry barrens before turning right to go through Meddybemps.  To truly appreciate Eastport’s remoteness, one has to travel on the land, not fly over it.

The author, James Fallows writes a solid report on the past, present & promise of Eastport, America’s furthest east city at the end of the road. His wife Deborah Fallows gets in the act of reporting as well. Go to www.theAtlantic.com and type in Eastport into the search function for a dozen and more articles reported from & about Eastport. Kay Ryssdal, of Marketplace Radio, also reported from Eastport in a segment titled, American Futures: Welcome to Eastport, Maine.

Why this buzz about Eastport?  Most Mainers have never been here, gone here, or really recognize just where Eastport is.  Case in point, a photographer friend was looking for a place where we could go and take pictures together. I mentioned that I was going to Eastport and he was welcome to come on by (sic). Then he looked at how far away it is from the southern/midcoast Maine. Folks, you just don’t know what you are missing.

We started going to Eastport five or six years ago. Why? We are travelers, hadn’t been there, have a fifth wheel and were ready for someplace new.  A shoreside campsite was scored at Seaview Campground. From the American side of Passamaquoddy Bay, we watched eagles, whales, the Old Sow Whirlpool, Deer Island and fabulous first sunrises. For some pictures, visit this set on my Flickr site- Eastport Day Three & Four. Since our first trip, we have been back nearly every year and already have reservations for this September ~ think Arrrgghhhh Pirate Festival.

Time has not been kind to Eastport. Over the years, the population has continued to dwindle while the promise remains unrealized. Life is harsh, full time employment means cobbling several seasonal jobs together to make a meager living. Eastport needs two immediate things to go behind thriving to survive.

The first is a rail connection that efficiently, effectively & economically takes advantage of its deep water port facilities.  The other is robust internet connectivity – both wired and wireless. Right now, most of the town’s wireless service is from Canadian towers.

Think about Eastport, it deserves a chance to thrive. Take some time to read The Atlantic articles, both in print and online. They tell the tale of the promise yet to be realized.

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