Web Text-ures Logo
Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio

(Return to Web Text-ures)
Click Here to return to
Maine Beautiful
Content Page

 Return to the Previous Chapter
Kellscraft Studio Logo


THERE are no good maps of any part of our country. This is of course owing to the rapid development of its cultural features. The best maps are those issued by the government, through the Coast and Geodetic Survey. These maps used to be available by the hundred for a nominal price, and they may still be had by paying a fair rate. When they were issued, they were creditably accurate. That, however, being in most cases at a time when there were no thoroughly good highways, there is no manner of knowing from these maps what the first-class roads now are. Nevertheless, such maps are of the highest value to one who studies seriously in detail any part of any state. Unfortunately they do not yet cover some of the more important sections. The contour lines of these maps are very helpful to the tourist. One sees at a glance where roads reach those sudden dips which are always pictorial; for instance, wherever a body of water lies against a quickly rising hill, there is beauty.

The best general map of Maine is one given for the asking and issued as a matter of advertising. One meets the difficulty, however, that automobile maps seldom consider natural attractions, but devote their attention mostly to hotels. No adequate attention has yet been paid to indicating good roads. One frequently finds an admirable highway where nothing but a single faint line is shown on the map, which line means an impracticable road. Again, various through routes prove to be theoretical, existing as plans only. The ignoring of important features is amusingly shown on one automobile map, which does not even locate Mt. Katahdin, though it is the outstanding feature of interest in Maine for natural beauty and grandeur. The plea may be entered that there is no motor route to its base.

There is room for far better guide books than we possess, but it is a question whether the public would support them, as the best one so far issued, a work of monumental zeal, has not met with an adequate response.

To sum up the helps to finding the best scenery in Maine: First, procure the national maps; second, procure the motor maps; third, check and reinforce the motor maps by the national maps; fourth, inquire locally for recent improvements in roads and learn what is at the moment practicable. It often happens that the final main route is at the time impassable. Fifth, in the region where there are guides, as in the back country, do not attempt to go alone. Sixth, you will find for yourself, more often than otherwise, the beautiful compositions. Leave the roads marked good and keep the ability to walk, by exploring paths. Maine has not been very thoroughly canvassed by art lovers. Artists are inclined to congregate in a few old localities. By far the greater part of the views in Maine are yet to be delineated. Many of them have not even been discovered. We have in this state, near the great centers of population, unappreciated glories, rivalling and often excelling those sought for over the sea or beyond the Mississippi.


Beyond the bluffs and spray-flung beach
The sea was lost in a silver fog.
At the end of day I sat on an old pine log
With seaward gaze,
And through the haze
The music of a quiet, fog-bound sea,
Like a great mother's crooning, came to me —
The soft antiphony of rhythmic notes,
Deep-throated, from the distant boats,
Low answering high, high answering low;
The lulling, sweet monotony of bells
Swinging slow —
And from the lighthouse glimmered steady flashes,
An eye of warning blinking its red lashes.

As I sat dreaming on the log

And saw the boats returning,
I thought of all the ships we send afar
Named Faith and Hope and Love;
Of how they watch the beacon light,
Those ships of white,
And sail past threatening shoals without a scar.
All treasure-laden they return to us,
With gifts miraculous,
From some far, unseen shore upon life's sea.
But we must never doubt
After we send our white ships out!
They may not bring the prize for which we yearn,
But always they return
Laden with treasure!








THE ramifications of the sea coast of Maine, its extent, and its variety, ranging from gently graded beaches to the bold features of Mt. Desert, make it unique in America. Aside from moderate rocky elevations on the North Shore of Massachusetts, and the isolated out-croppings at Watch Hill, Rhode Island, the Atlantic coast from Maine to Mexico is a practically unbroken low shore. The Geodetic Survey has called attention to this striking circumstance. As a consequence, Americans are beginning to feel that the coast of Maine contains every feature that the heart of man could desire. We are born of a sea-loving, sea-viewing, sea-faring race. Despite the present trend of America away from the ocean, there are still enough of us who love the sea, and all its moods, to hold in increasing appreciation the ecstatic charms unrolling themselves from Kittery to Eastport.

There is another and still more striking aspect of the Maine coast: it abounds in more harbors, perhaps, than the rest of America together possesses. Some of these harbors, like Casco Bay, are to some extent developed. Others, like the regions about Wiscasset, are still very little used. Were there a sufficient number of great arteries leading back from these harbors, they might easily reach a use a hundred-fold greater than now. They lie awaiting the future. They are a constant challenge to the man of imagination. The number of islands and headlands in the bays and straits is legion. They are rock bordered, and some of the very islands themselves are famous quarries. very recently we have been told by careful students of the subject that granite is the building material par excellence. All the edifices that man will ever raise could be supplied with granite of the finest quality from the coasts of Maine.

If we seek farther how these beautiful harbors are to be availed of, we find unlimited lime, sands, and clay, for all the manifold uses to which these basal materials are adapted.

We cannot doubt that the tremendous surge of the tides, which increases as we go eastward on the Maine coast, will some time be harnessed by the wit of man. Hitherto their white manes have escaped untamed. At a time when power is the great focus of civilization, and we are beginning to see the limitations of black and white coal, it is certain that the attention of engineers must more and more be turned toward the limitless power in the tides. Problems more abstruse than the utilization of the tide have been solved. We cannot believe that the genius of America is incapable of taming their power. Once that is done, Maine will become, in conjunction with Nova Scotia, a fountain of wealth for the whole nation. The strategic importance of the state, constructively considered, cannot be overrated. When we remember that the development of power has already exceeded many fold what could be accomplished by all human hands, we may readily deduce the truth of the thesis that civilization depends upon a multiplied application of power. Then, standing on the heights of this picturesque shore, we shall have on the coast of Maine a combination of the picturesque and the practical such as may stimulate the highest faculties of man.

The Maine coast is not merely grand, as are the cliffs of Grand Menan, and as the long beaches like Old Orchard. In its hidden waterways, protected by islands, it possesses numberless quiet stretches of utmost charm. On this coast pour out the fine fresh waters of Maine, the Penobscot, the Kennebec, and the Androscoggin. Those who tire of marine waters only may sail through the estuaries of these streams into a world of splendid beauty, where the green of spring and the flush of autumn spread themselves to the very margin of the streams. There is thus, on the Maine coast and near it, a variety of impressions obtainable, sufficient to entertain the most exacting. It is a far cry from the summer mirror of these little bays, bathed in shimmering sunshine, to the titanic roar and rush of winter waters when they rouse themselves and bombard with terrific detonations the granite bulwarks of the coast. Thus the seasons, the sun, the wind, the contour of the coast line, and its varying elevations, all assemble themselves to supply us with a natural drama, answering to every mood in human experience, and appealing to the gentle, the dreamy, the descriptive, and the tragic. Those who have delineated human passions have failed to explain the strange influence of the natural world on the mind. One thing, however, is impressively certain; that there is great relief for the mind in the moods of the sea. The restless, the forlorn, the tempest-tossed, and even the cynically bitter find help at the ocean's brink. The deep without calls to the deep within. The impression of plenty, of power, and of eternity is conveyed by the proximity of the sea.

Our natural intellectual poverty is challenged by the unbounded mass of the ocean. Our futility is rebuked by the sense that here is an element mighty enough to meet all challenges. Our longing for continuance is fed by the ageless ebb and flow of the ocean's heart. It would seem that power flows into us from the sea. We grow less petty in the presence of this gigantic phenomenon. There is a convincing quality in the great green breakers such that we no longer doubt that what must be done can be done.

But there is a mystic quality in the sea. It holds in its heart so many secrets and hints so constantly at shadowy and wondrous shapes, that its appeal to us is not only physical but spiritual. There is no faculty or department of human nature that is not influenced by the sea. We leap from the ocean to the stars with the greatest ease, and we are stimulated by the mystery and the bulk of the sea to attempt the grasp of mightier things beyond it. Thus the sea has always been a symbol of those vaster and occult powers which lie beyond it, and of which it is the noblest visible expression. The sea seems to connect us with greater worlds. Maine is especially happy in this tremendous asset of its rocky shores. No child is too young, no hoary grandfather too old to be interested and stimulated by the Maine coast. There all ships could find refuge and freights. There all souls can find food enough. There he who peers into the unseen will find a depth sufficiently challenging. There one who wanders from the monotony of the interior plains or the low coasts of the south, and reaches a headland of Maine, feels that he has reached something sufficiently important to engross him, and to fill his dreams.


We love to touch infinity. When we feel the tides touch our feet, we fancy ourselves linked with the infinite. It matters not that we cannot understand deeply the voices of the sea, and the voices beyond at which they hint. As a child listens with a shell at its ear, so the most profound minds listen at the border of infinity. We are grateful for any small echo that reaches us. We feel refreshed by the slightest revelation. While some are content to dream on the shore of the ocean, others launch boldly forth, and either trust or dare its mystery and its terror. They love to feel themselves at one with the universe. Whether we always formulate our thought or no, we are never fully convinced that the powers which have brought us forth can be dangerous to our being. At least, if we live through battles with the elements, we grow by means of the experience, and in the soul of victor Hugo we can hear the surge and the wail of the tempest. We love to adapt and to adopt into our own being those features of the infinite which we can apprehend. Nor is it necessary that we should understand in order to benefit by the sea. As a child unwittingly grows through the processes of digestion, so we gain new viewpoints and a better hope and reserve powers by laying our hand on the foaming, tossing mane of the ocean. By what we learn of the ocean, we suspect that we may learn far more. We cannot believe that it has told us any great part of its secrets. Its patient assault of its rock barriers shows no discouragement. Its eternal attack of all the evil things that flow into it, rendering them harmless, may indicate to us that all poisons have an antidote. It is always bringing to us some story of the past. It is always calling us to new journeys and investigations. It is the solace of the poor and the rebuke of the rich. It has something to say to all conditions of men. We are grateful to the sea because it speaks to us in a voice different from that of an ordinary appeal. We are made conscious by the sea that we are yet inarticulate. As what we have said is an echo of what we have seen, it is apparent that we have seen little. If we ask for the classical utterances on various aspects of nature, art, and human experience, we shall find but few of these utterances satisfying, and in some instances there is no utterance whatever that at all meets our sense of what ought to be said. Sailors ought to be eloquent. Or is it true that the multitudinous voices of the sea silence the hearer, teaching him modesty and restraint?

We speak of placing prisoners in solitary confinement. So far as that is concerned, we are all in the dark as to most knowledge, available or unavailable. Men who are never in jail, and indeed are of very lofty character, are yet seeking, and for the most part in vain, to hear and to see the voices and the visions that so slowly unfold for us. The ocean helps to let us out of prison, for we are all bound, hand and foot. Prophets seek to open our eyes and ears and to let us out of our prison house, and thereby they justify their calling as prophets. They are ever showing us something that we have not seen, but might have seen. They are all receivers, who gather from the ether such voices as are ever resonant there, but not available to us in our dullness. Thus the ocean may be to us almost anything that we wish to make it. 1t is a bathing place or a fishing place. That is something to those who see in it nothing more. To others it is a highway. To others it is a cosmic call. It is the only feature of the earth visibly large enough and mysterious enough to claim all our time and thought.















In this feature, Maine is rich beyond expression. What history, what poetry, what romance, lies latent in the shore of Maine for the coming generations! To gain our greatest delight, we should think of the Maine shore as the starting point of new epics. What it has in store we cannot tell, but we know that so far its influences are mostly to come into use. As its tides may supply the motive power for our mechanics, so its appeals to our minds and hearts must supply the motive for a fuller literature, based on a richer life. But of this we may be sure: the Maine coast is at present, and for all time is likely to be, the most attractive natural feature of America, except the western mountains; and to those who prefer shore to mountain, the Maine coast is supreme.

Book Chapter LogoClick the book image to turn to the next Chapter.