Rusticating in Bygone Maine

Maine has a long history as being a place to get away to, and in some cases, we have surpassed the success of many better known vacation spots. During the latter 1800’s into the early 1900’s rusticating in Maine was in vogue. People came from all over the world to relax in our rustic environment, and as a result, several world class tourist spots were developed.

One of them, the Poland Spring Inn, as shown in this postcard of mine boasted of its miraculous spring water. The water was so popular it was bottled for distribution in the old familiar green bottles with the green labeling.

Most of the older mega hotels, if you want to call them that have disappeared, but you can still find remnants of many by way of old advertising, postcards and various publications describing their offerings. Things have changed over the course of the years, so we now see a differing sort of entertainment to keep visitors happy.

It used to be common to find people boating, or taking hikes through the woods or along a shoreline, enjoying the sights to be found in the world of nature. Those same sights are still there, however, and can be found again by those of an adventurous nature.

Another world famous resort was the Kineo House, which could be found on Moosehead Lake in the Greenville area. This ca. 1850 picture to the right shows the hotel before its latter additions. The Kineo House was a grand destination for those sportsmen who wanted to get back into the big woods for fishing and hunting, and there are many stories of the successful hunts that could be had with the right guide. Fishermen were able to catch overflowing strings of various species that could be found not only in Moosehead Lake itself, but from the many streams and brooks running into the lake.

Along the coastline, dozens of old hotels lined the beaches, and southern Maine offered miles of sandy beaches for the travelers enjoyment. At one time, Old Orchard Beach recorded more visitors than the famed beaches of Atlantic City in New Jersey, and surpassed by far the then newly marketed California shoreline.

Bar Harbor has become a locale enticing the rich and famous from around the world, and many of the one time visitors have become seasonal residents here in Maine, all due to our climate and abundant resources. In those days, coming to Maine for a vacation was referred to as ‘rusticating’. It was a combination of roughing it in the woods while living elegantly, so to speak.

It amazes me today to read of the accoutrements carried into the woods by folks in those days, setting up a rough camp with all the comforts of home. It makes me wonder at times where all the people came from to tote all of the equipment into the woods. Hotels were generally advertised as having all of the amenities one could wish for on their vacation, some even boasting of hot baths.

Classy restaurants could be found in most of the better hotels, with some of them gaining quite a reputation for their culinary flare and style. No matter how you slice the pie, Maine was the place to go when you wanted to get away. In spite of the changing times, you can still get away in Maine today, whether you want to get out into the deep woods, or relax by the seaside in a comfortable resort. And while you’re visiting, there are many museums and historical societies you see to enhance your vacation if you are indeed a history buff.

We are coming into a new year, and with every new year comes a new set of hoops to jump through. It is no different for these organizations, and every one of them, from the Maine State Historical Society down to the smallest village historical society you can find, needs your help to survive. Please visit them, and see if you can help them out by either a donation of cash, or maybe even volunteering some time in this new year. You might be surprised at what you can learn about our past!

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Categories: historical societies, Maine, Salt andPines project, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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