Alongside Maine’s extremely convoluted shoreline, it’s pretty straightforward to gesture towards the japanese finish of the state. Whether or not you’re in Biddeford, Portland, Boothbay, Rockland or Belfast, in case you level towards the rising solar, you’re pointing towards Down East Maine.
The time period “Down East” (which some spell as one phrase) originated as a reference to the prevailing summer time winds alongside the coast. Sailors would glide downwind, with the wind at their backs, as they sailed east from Boston to ports unfold out from Kittery to Lubec.
The time period has morphed considerably through the years. It’s used as a cultural reference as a lot as (if no more than) a directional one. If you end up in Down East Maine, you’re in part of the state the place there are quite a lot of timber, not many individuals, and the state’s iconic rocky shoreline just isn’t distant.
However the place does the fabled land start? Which may all rely on which a part of Maine you’re in.
Washington County, extra so than any of the seven different counties on Maine’s coast, suits each the directional and cultural definitions of the time period, although folks touring from southern Maine to Washington County would possibly say “method Down East” to let folks know simply how far they’re going.
So are you able to get to Down East Maine with out crossing into Washington County? Are you able to say you’ve reached that idealized place — with out of doors piles of weathered lobster traps, darkish and starry night time time skies, and miles of winding tree-lined roads — and nonetheless be inside an hour of Interstate 95?
The Maine Workplace of Tourism has recognized all of Hancock and Washington counties as “Down East & Acadia” — certainly one of eight subdivisions of the state that the general public company promotes to vacationers. In an internet description of the area, the company says the time period has grown past its purely nautical origins to additionally “characterize the wealthy maritime historical past and robust, unbiased spirit of the folks on this particular a part of the northeastern coast.”
However, unsurprisingly, a latest casual on-line survey of some dozen Mainers didn’t produce common settlement.
Based mostly on their responses, the western fringe of Down East appears to lie someplace inside or on the sting of Hancock County, with a physique of water usually marking the boundary. Some mentioned Penobscot Bay, on the county’s western edge, whereas others mentioned Down East begins on the Hancock-Washington county line.
The most well-liked reply, nonetheless, was , or a close-by landmark that lies alongside the identical approximate north-south line that delineates east from west. Some mentioned it was the Union River, which runs via the center of the town. Others mentioned it’s the place routes 1 and three break up aside on the town’s industrial Excessive Avenue thoroughfare. Some particularly cited the previous Cheese Home on Route 3 in Trenton, which motorists go whereas driving between Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island.
Some went out of their solution to say that Bucksport just isn’t thought of Down East or to solid doubt on whether or not MDI — which has expensive waterfront mansions and will get thick crowds of vacationers in the summertime — qualifies. Just a few cited the tidal Taunton River about 10 miles east of Ellsworth, which separates the Hancock County cities of Hancock and Sullivan. If something inside an hour’s drive of I-95 is disqualified as Down East, Sullivan would make the reduce, however the city of Hancock wouldn’t.
“It phases in beginning on the western most border of the Union River watershed,” mentioned Ellsworth resident Wayne Simmons. Whenever you head east throughout the Narraguagus River within the Washington County cities of Cherryfield or Milbridge, he added, “you’re proper thick into it.”
Brian Kevin, who lives in midcoast Maine, has encountered this query fairly a bit, typically due to his position as editor-in-chief of Down East journal, but in addition as a result of he mentioned he enjoys debating a trivial level that individuals are keen about and can by no means absolutely agree on.
“It’s fixed,” he mentioned of the shortage of consensus.
The talk tends to be tongue-in-cheek and “ought to all the time be taken with a point of enjoyable,” he mentioned.
Kevin mentioned that a part of the inexact that means of the time period comes from folks, usually from out of state, who take it as a nickname for the state as an entire. For instance, not one of the folks featured on “Down East Dickering,” a reality-based tv present that aired on Historical past Channel in 2014 and 2015, lived east of Penobscot Bay.
A extra fast instance of this, after all, is Down East journal, which is predicated within the midcoast city of Camden. The employees intentionally goes to all corners of Maine and locations in between to assemble content material for its readers, Kevin mentioned, and tries to unfold out its protection to a number of elements of the state for every concern.
“Often, folks give us a tough time,” he mentioned. “We’re very deliberate about masking the entire state.”
Kevin mentioned that, for his cash, he’s on crew Taunton River for the place the western fringe of the Down East area lies. However he rapidly added that he’s keen to grant exceptions.
“It’s a vibe,” Kevin mentioned. “I do know it once I see it.”