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Thursday, November 11, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 84: Owl's Head, Maine

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund


Trip 84:  Owl’s Head, Maine
October 2, 2010


            Throughout the majority of my trips I have taken I have always felt that there was never enough time to see all that I wanted to see.  Getting a chance to spend six days in Maine I thought would be a perfect way to correct that.  Now, after finishing up my trip to Maine I have found out that even six days was not enough to see what I had wanted to see.  That being said, my time in Maine was among the most fun that I have had in my life. 
The living room at Wataview
I owe a huge debt of thanks to my friend Steve Davis who allowed me to stay at his ‘Wataview’ home on Cottage Avenue in Owl’s Head.  This house has an amazing view of Rockland Harbor and the Breakwater Lighthouse.  What a thrill it was for me to be able to sit out on the enclosed porch after dark and simply enjoy the sight of the lighthouse lantern as it spun rhythmically across the water and into the windows.  It is available for rent up until the beginning of October and the website is included at the end of the article.
Owl’s Head is a small town in the mid-coast region of Maine.  It was first explored in 1605 by Samuel de Champlain and was called Bedabedec Point by the Abenaki tribe of Native Americans.  The name means ‘Cape of the Winds.’  The town got its name from mariners who thought the shape of the rock ridge where Owl’s Head Light currently stands looked like an owl.  Though it has over 400 years of history the town was not incorporated until 1921.
Birch Point Beach State Park
 I found Owl’s Head to be in many ways an absolutely perfect snapshot of what I always had thought Maine would look like to me.  After waking up to a beautiful sunrise over the harbor the first place I ventured out to was Birch Point Beach State Park.  This area is one that would qualify as ‘classic Maine’ with its outcropping of rocks lined with straight-as-towers pine trees stretching out into the cool Atlantic waters.
The road to the beach was closed so I needed to walk to get to the water.  This was a welcomed addition to my trip as it gave me a chance to take in the rapidly changing leaves whose colors were made even brighter by the strong morning sun.  The beach was magnificent as I hit it at low tide and was able to walk out on some of the dry rocks and get a great view of the Mussel Ridge Channel Islands which sit about a mile off shore.  This area ended up being the best possible starting point for my time in Maine and it only got better from here.
Entrance to the Transportation Museum
The next spot I visited was the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum located on Museum Street.  The drive from Birch Point to the museum was so amazing that I almost did not want it to end.  Everything shone from the sun, every home, every tree, it was all too perfect.  The Transportation Museum has an unbelievable collection of items, it is a day trip all in itself.  There are originals and replicas of aircraft dating all the way back to 1804.  The thirteen-inch unmanned glider built by the ‘Father of Aviation,’ Sir George Cayley, is replicated here.  It is amazing to see where aviation began to where it is today.
Owl's Head Harbor
The Museum also has an impressive collection of antique cars as well including a three-wheeled open air vehicle built by Karl Benz in 1885.  It looks incredibly out of place even among vehicles from thirty years later but there are many features to it which are still used in cars today.  I found the vehicles from the 19th and very early 20th century to be the most interesting mostly because of the history and how these awkward looking vehicles actually changed the world.
After leaving the Transportation Museum I headed to Owl’s Head State Park located on the northeast corner of the wide peninsula.  It is here that the spectacular Owl’s Head Lighthouse resides.  This area contains the rocky cliff that gave Owl’s Head its name, although it is impossible to see from where the lighthouse is situated.
Owl's Head Lighthouse
From the parking lot it is a short walk to the lighthouse itself.  The walk contains some more incredible views of the rocky cliffs and a gray sandy beach located near the parking lot.  Once you get to where the Coast Guard Station and Owl’s Head Lighthouse are the cliffs get much higher and the views include all of the surrounding area.
I found it odd yet thrilling that a lighthouse was built in such a spot.  Built in 1852 the lighthouse itself is only thirteen-feet tall yet it can be seen for miles because the light is 100 feet above sea level thanks to the gigantic cliffs.  The stairway which leads up to where the lighthouse sits made for some fantastic photo opportunities, and the view from the top was the perfect capper to my day in Owl’s Head.  The walk and the stairs should not deter anybody from paying this marvelous site a visit.
Although it is a small town population wise, and a new town as far as being officially recognized, Owl’s Head is filled with amazing places to see.  The Owl’s Head Transportation Museum is a day trip itself and is a must see.  I highly recommend paying a visit to Owl’s Head Lighthouse for the incredible views.  For a taste of what I believe is ‘classic Maine’ there is Birch Point Beach State Park.  If you see all of those places then I also recommend simply pointing your vehicle in any direction and taking a slow drive through the streets of this awesome little town.  Have fun and happy traveling!

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DirectionsBirch Point Beach State Park:  Take Rt. 1 into Rockland, turn right at Rt. 73, follow it 4 miles, turn left at Dublin Rd., turn right at Ballyhac Rd.  Follow it to signs for park, there is some parking if gate is closed.
            Owl’s Head Transportation Museum:  Take Rt. 1 into Rockland, turn right at Rt. 73, follow it almost 3 miles, turn left at Museum St., there is a sign for the museum at entrance.
            Owl’s Head Lighthouse:  Take Rt. 1 into Rockland, turn right at Rt. 73, follow it almost 2 miles, turn left at N. Shore Drive.  Turn left at Main St. near Post Office, turn left at Lighthouse Rd. follow it to parking lot.  

                Mussel Ridge Historical Society
            Owl's Head Official Town Site

1 comment:

Jocelyn Maher said...

Hi Christopher,

My name is Jocelyn and I am with Dwellable. I know you have worked with Dwellable in the past, but wanted to reach out and say that I am interested in featuring your blog post about Owl's Head. If you’re open to it, shoot me an e-mail at jocelyn(at)dwellable(dot)com.

Hope to hear from you soon!
- Jocelyn