One of the fun things about exploring is finding the unexpected. While staying in the Freeport, Maine area we learned about an exhibit in a neighboring town that featured the world’s largest revolving globe. Named “Eartha,” the globe was designed and built in 1998 by Delorme employees as a representation of the earth seen from space. Signboards in the three story atrium where Eartha is located give complicated, technical information on how Eartha was made using computer technology. I love looking at maps and globes so this was a feast for the eyes. The building has three floors and you can get a different view of the huge globe from each floor. In the photo above taken from the third floor, you can see how small Mark is next to Eartha.
Delorme had a map business and store here, but in 2016 the company was bought out by Garmin who makes GPS devices and digital maps. The map store subsequently closed, but Eartha remains. I thought this was a really cool find and it was fun to watch it make a complete rotation which takes about 18 minutes. In the photo above you can see the angle of the globe while looking at it from the first floor.
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park was another great find in the Freeport area. I thought the park’s name was unusual but found out it was named for Henry and Rachel Woolfe, the area’s first permanent European settlers who were residents here in 1733. I drove over to walk in the woods and get a look at the shore as the park is located on a peninsula of Casco Bay. It was more scenic than I expected and I could have stayed there indefinitely. It was very peaceful with just a few people on the trails and near the water. This was the kind of Maine scenery that I love – woods meeting water with lots of interesting rock formations to climb on and a few islands close by.
The park is known for Osprey which nest on one of the islands so close to the main shore that you could probably walk there during low tide. After locating the osprey nest with my binoculars, I sat and watched two flying back and forth and even got a glimpse of a baby moving in the nest. When I got there the tide was out as you can see in the picture above. But I returned to this spot later after walking some trails in the woods and found the tide had come in covering most of the rock. You can see the island in the upper right of the photo above.
The historic town of Bath has a great downtown with my favorite building the old City Hall pictured above. Mark and I made a couple of trips to Bath – the first time so Mark could visit a large yarn shop and we could check out the Farmer’s Market. On another trip we came to see the Maine Maritime Museum which is in a fitting location on the Kennebec River as Bath became known as the “City of Ships” after shipbuilding began here in 1743. There were once many shipbuilders and the museum is located on the grounds of the former Percy and Small Shipyard. There are five original 19th century buildings that exhibit the different processes used in constructing wooden ships such as laying out the patterns and sawing the pieces, painting, metal forge work, caulking and rope making. From here many ships were built and launched into the river.
The centerpiece of the museum is a full size metal sculpture installation of the largest wooden commercial sailing ship ever built, the six masted schooner Wyoming which was constructed and launched here in 1909. The sculpture is more than 400 feet from bow to stern with six flags representing the ship’s masts. As I looked up at it, I found it hard to imagine a ship standing that tall! There is a lot to see at this museum and I thought I would share a few highlights.
Welcoming visitors to the lobstering exhibit is a Volkswagen with a lobster sitting on top, a fitting pair since a lobster is called a … you guessed it “bug” here in Maine. Inside the building are displays of lobster boats, traps – both metal and old fashioned wooden ones. There was interesting information about the life and behavior of lobsters including videos showing their aggressive, fighting tendencies. Those big claws are not just for looks! The wall pictured below displays an assortment of buoys that mark the location of each lobsterman’s traps. Each lobsterman has their own distinctive color and design.
The Mary E. Schooner docked at the museum is a survivor as she is the last of over 850 small wooden schooners built in Bath that were once common in Maine harbors. Built in 1906, she spent over 50 years in the fishing and cargo carrying business and is pictured below. You can step aboard and see how beautifully she has been restored. I am not sure if they ever take the public out for sailing trips, but what a fun trip that would be.
Although Bath stopped building wooden ships long ago, Bath Iron Works (BIW) has been in business as a major shipyard since 1884. They are known for building Navy Destroyers and have been building them since World War II. A slogan developed that “Bath built is best built.” The museum offers boat trips on the Kennebuc River to get a close up view of the ships and machinery like the destroyer pictured below. It was a fun and informative trip and nice to see this shipbuilding company from the water.
When we had finished the indoor maritime exhibits and were walking to our truck, Mark noticed that there was another building near the parking lot we had not yet explored. Inside we found an exhibit with remains of the Clipper ship, “Snow Squall.” This ship built for speed was launched near Portland, Maine in 1851 and traveled all over the world, carrying tea, spices and silks back to the U.S. After being damaged trying to go around Cape Horn in 1864, she was abandoned in the Falkland Islands. After over 100 years, an archaeological expedition was able to retrieve her bow section and bring her back in 1987 to where she began in Maine.
I thought this was an amazing exhibit, especially when I learned this is the sole remaining example of an American clipper ship which at one time numbered over 300. I was surprised that this ship was housed in a building away from the main part of the museum as I thought they might want to keep more of an eye on it as people come and go from the exhibit. I am glad we didn’t miss seeing this as some how it had escaped my attention when I was planning what to see and do at the museum. I thought it was the most interesting exhibit!
I will close with this cute sign I found next to a shop regarding Maine vocabulary I couldn’t resist photographing. Thanks for reading – in the next blog we explore Acadia National Park.