, as defined by the National Scenic Byways Program, are “features that are considered representative, unique, irreplaceable, or distinctly characteristic of an area.” Intrinsic qualities arise from a particular combination of resources along a byway that together define its character, interest and appeal. These resources are the special views, places, buildings, sites, and other features that residents enjoy and that provide the byway’s drawing power and interest for travelers.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recognizes six intrinsic quality categories: Natural, Cultural, Historical, Scenic, Recreational, and Archeological.
Primary Intrinsic Qualities
The Bold Coast Byway Corridor Advisory Group, with input from stakeholders along the Byway, initially identified Scenic Qualities as the most important asset of the Byway, with Natural Qualities (which are intrinsic to many of the scenic assets) as a close second. Cultural Qualities also ranked high on the order of important assets for the Byway, with Recreational and Historic Qualities ranked as medium importance. (Note: Archeological assets do exist in the Byway region, but due to protection measures, are not accessible to the general public, and therefore are not described within this Plan as an intrinsic asset to the Bold Coast Scenic Byway.)
However, through the writing of this management plan, it became increasingly clear that, although Scenic and Natural qualities provide the initial draw to the region, it is the Cultural and Historic qualities (which are inherently tied to natural/scenic aspects) that make the Bold Coast region unique among other coastal regions of the northeastern United States. This Plan therefore emphasizes this long-standing connection between the wild and scenic coastal landscape and the resource-based way of life of the people who call the Bold Coast region home.
The Bold Coast Scenic Byway gives travelers personal access to a way of life historically bound to the wild and scenic coastal environment. Active fishing villages, working-forests, family farms, and prolific blueberry barrens reflect this relationship as people continue to harvest the seasonal bounty of land and sea, much as their ancestors have done for centuries.
Nowhere else will a visitor find such a comprehensive first-hand experience of a natural resource-based culture as they will in the Bold Coast region. Travelers can dig clams, harvest “wrinkles” and seaweed, pick blueberries, milk goats and make cheese, tour a sea-salt “farm” or a cranberry farm, or collect maple sap and wreath brush alongside the locals who perform these and other tasks each and every day. Travelers to the Bold Coast region will learn the stories of this place directly through the words of residents, all while standing in the very spot where those stories take place.
A typical summer day along the Byway might include a gentle early morning paddle about the bay to watch eagles and ospreys feeding at the changing tide, lunch may consist of a haddock sandwich eaten on the pier while watching fishing boats unload their catch, the afternoon might consist of a whale watch/natural history tour followed by a visit to the sardine museum or the sea salt “farm,” and the evening might evolve into a beachside seaweed bake of freshly dug clams and lobsters purchased off the boats at the local wharf.
A typical early spring visit might include a tour of a historic maple syrup operation and then an ecology lesson at the smelting nets, followed by a pancake feast including deep-fried smelts and flash-frozen blueberries, with an afternoon of snowmobiling on the Downeast Sunrise Trail and an evening of storytelling, music, or art, and locally produced wines and chocolate at the community library.
Travelers will definitely see the accouterments of a working landscape in action as they travel about—from smelt nets stretched across a river to lobster buoys being painted on a front lawn to blueberry harvesters bumping across the fields to trucks laden with fir boughs lined up in front of wreath factories to a gang of four wheelers congregated in front of a local restaurant.
The Bold Coast landscapes are filled with people and the tools of their trades. (A brochure titled “Moosabec: the Downeast fishing community of Beals and Jonesport
” sums up the region’s working landscape beautifully.) As it says, this is not a region of manicured lawns, freshly painted houses, or carefully landscaped businesses. Traps, drags, boats, engines, winches, trucks, tractors, fuel tanks, ATV’s, buckets and boxes, stacks of lumber, piles of logs, containers of bait, and miscellaneous stockpiles of “useful stuff” are seen everywhere, sometimes neatly organized, but usually just right out there in a convenient location of the front dooryard, where it will be used eventually. Clam and worm diggers work the mud flats early and late according to the tides. Fishing boats roar off from their moorings before sunrise. Blueberry growers, loggers, and boat shops transport their oversize loads very slowly down the middle of the roads.
The roads themselves reflect the focus on a working culture that relies on trucks and heavy equipment…potholes in spring, crumbling shoulders, muddy logging road intersections, tractor-trailers parked outside gas stations, and sharply winding narrow roads that must accommodate everyone safely.
The Bold Coast Scenic Byway provides a first-hand experience of a hard-working, hands-on culture. Communities are functional rather than flashy, and relationships are steeped in genealogical and geographical history. People are proud, resourceful, cautious, and humble as much as they are quick with a witty comment and an invitation to supper. Visitors are welcomed unassumingly to this far-flung world, to learn, share, and enjoy the daily rhythms of living, working, and playing in the Bold Coast region of Maine.
Bold Coast Scenic Byway Sub-Regions
Because the byway route covers 125 miles, it travels through many different landscapes, each with their own distinct character and their own stories to tell. In order to best express the unique qualities of these landscapes, the byway is described as having three distinct sub-regions: the Coastal Villages region, the Bold Coast region, and the Cobscook Bay region.
The Coastal Villages
sub-region is exemplified by compact and well preserved historic settlements situated in protected coastal harbors, and up tidally influenced rivers, sometimes several miles inland. Here blueberry barrens and cool, clear waters are abundant.
The Bold Coast
sub-region’s open and rough coastline provides breathtaking opportunities to traverse the edges of rocky cliff-side trails and gaze out across the vast expanse of the Gulf of Maine.
The Cobscook Bay
sub-region is remote and forested, bringing the byway traveler along the easternmost edge of the United States, where extreme tides and natural wonders of the Bay of Fundy are evident, and the international boundary allows two-nation exploration.
For a detailed sub-regional list of resources contributing to the intrinsic Cultural, Historic, Scenic, Natural, and Recreational Qualities of the Bold Coast Scenic Byway, see Appendix 4 –Sites Contributing to Intrinsic Qualities of the Byway
Cultural Quality is evidence and expressions of the customs or traditions of a distinct group of people. Cultural features including, but not limited to, crafts, music, dance, rituals, festivals, speech, food, special events, vernacular architecture, etc., are currently practiced. The cultural qualities of the corridor could highlight one or more significant communities and/or ethnic traditions. (FHWA Interim Policy, May 18, 1995)
The Cultural Quality of the Bold Coast region derives largely from the people’s ongoing relationship with the natural landscape. Since the earliest human settlements, the people of the Bold Coast have thrived among the challenges and the opportunities of the woods and waters, the seasonal changes, and the aesthetic and spiritual essence of the landscapes. The livelihoods of the Bold Coast people have always depended on the region’s abundant natural resources. Cultural Qualities reside in the region’s traditional ways of making a living and celebrating life, still quite evident in today’s intact nature-based culture.
Following The Cycles Of Seasons
The native Algonquin people, the Abanakis and Etchimins settled the Bold Coast region at least ten thousand years ago. Abanakis had generally settled west of the Penobscot River, while the Etchimins were east of it. One of the three principal bands of Etchimins was the Passamaquoddy (Pestumokadyik, meaning “People who spear pollock”) of Machias and the St. Croix River Valley. Native inhabitants of the Bold Coast region moved camp seasonally as the availability of natural resources changed. In spring, they fished and planted crops on the riverbanks. In summer they harvested food from the sea. Fall brought them back to the riverbank for the harvest, and winter forced them inland to hunt. Traditional Passamaquoddy basket making, canoe building, jewelry making, woodcarving, storytelling, hunting and fishing, and tribal celebrations and ceremonies are very much alive within the Pleasant Point and Indian Township communities of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
Growing Upon Tradition
Fishing, forestry, farming, shipbuilding, trapping, canning, and granite quarrying have sustained the Bold Coast communities since European settlement, and the regional culture has retained many aspects of these traditional resource-based economies. Commercial and recreational fishing, seafood processing (including sea vegetables), blueberry production, small agriculture, boat building, and forest products (lumber, wood pellets, wreaths, Christmas trees) still provide the livelihoods for many in the region, although technologies have changed dramatically in some cases.
Today, salmon and trout are raised in pens along the coast, seaweed is harvested and even grown in controlled environments, and clams and oysters are seeded in the muddy flats. Fishing vessels are typically formed of molded fiberglass hulls. The rise and fall of Fundy waters and the bluster of nor’easters are now harnessed for energy. Forestland is being converted to more and more blueberry barrens, which are being cleared of rocks to facilitate mechanical harvesting. Even Christmas wreaths can be made mechanically!
The Bold Coast people are strongly bonded to their cultural heritage. Museums and historical societies showcase traditional culture, and the evolution to modern day technologies and economies. Family farms offer tours and sell products created by traditional methods and on traditional lands. Seasonal festivals and local arts and crafts fairs remain essential to community character, social mixing, and quality of life, celebrating the bounty of the coastal landscape and the creativity and vitality of the local people who work and play within it.
Land of the Wild Blueberry
Wild blueberries are an important economic and cultural aspect of the Bold Coast region’s agricultural history. Wild Blueberries are one of only three berries native to North America. The Passamaquoddy first used blueberries, both fresh and dried, for their flavor, nutrition and healing qualities. Easily preserved, blueberries were an important food source. Colonists learned from the native people how to gather blueberries, dry them in the sun, and store them for winter.
Blueberries once grew naturally and most abundantly on the treeless areas of eskers, glacially formed ridges of sandy, acidic soil, at the western edge of the Bold Coast region. Their range was extended and the crops increased through clearing and burning large areas of land, called “barrens.” Blueberry barrens are prevalent throughout the Bold Coast region today, and are easily visible from roadways in Cherryfield, Columbia, Columbia Falls, Centerville Jonesport, Jonesboro, Whitneyville, and East Machias.
Blueberries were originally picked by hand, but the blueberry rake, invented in 1910, greatly increased the efficiency and capacity of the harvest. Although the annual blueberry harvest was once a family tradition, drawing large family units from as far away as Mexico, fewer workers migrate into the region as increasing numbers of acres of land are cleared of rocks to enable a mechanical harvest.
It wasn’t until the later 1800s that wild blueberries were harvested on a commercial scale. With the start of the Civil War in 1861, Washington County’s canneries began canning the abundant Bold Coast blueberries to send to Union Troops to fight scurvy. The industry thrived during the war, and the taste for wild blueberries soon spread across the nation. With the advent of railroad transportation in the area, the wild blueberry crop began its rise to today’s level of economic importance. Washington County is now the world’s largest producer of blueberries.
Land of the Sea
Throughout the Bold Coast communities, evidence of the region’s coastal cultural heritage is strong. Dilapidated sardine factories and the remnants of old wharves and docks portray a once booming industry. Lobster traps and brightly painted buoys are piled high in the yards of many homes, lobster boats fill the harbors, town docks bustle with activity, and lighthouses shine at night.
Fishing influenced settlement patterns as villages rose up around the fisheries trade. The ability to harvest seafood has increased through technological advancements. Recent stability of the lobster fishery and spikes in other fisheries maintains the importance of the industry to the regional economy and culture, and supports the continued heritage of traditional fishing families in the region.
Fisheries of all types remain integral to the development of the economy and culture of the Bold Coast region. Clams were an important resource to the region’s native peoples, evident in the numerous shell heaps scattered along the coast of Machias Bay and around Passamaquoddy and Cobscook bays. The native Wabanaki used lobster as bait for their fishing hooks and taught early European colonists how to use the shellfish for various purposes.
Today, as they have for hundreds of years, clam harvesters or “clammers” dig into mud exposed by low tide with a four-tined short-handled hoe or fork (some pull clams by hand!) and place them in a basket known as a “hod” or “roller.” Clammers dig along the shoreline, wherever clams are abundant and weather, tide, and harvesting restrictions allow. In the beginning of the industry, clamming was a supplemental winter fishery. Today, clamming is often conducted year-round.
Lobsters have been harvested and used by the people of the Bold Coast region for centuries. Lobster was once so abundant that, at low tide, lobsters beneath rockweed-covered ledges and boulders could be picked up by hand, speared with a gaff, or scooped with a net. To fish for lobster one needed only a small boat. Some lobstermen utilized small, two-ton sloops—the famous “Friendship Sloops”—and others tended their inshore traps with dories. Earlier methods of catching lobster (such as with nets) were replaced with lobster traps made out of wood. Although trap and line materials have changed over time, methods remain virtually unchanged. Technological developments in the lobster and other fisheries included the advent the diesel engine, the bottom trawl, refrigeration, and the growth in railroads and the highways system.
Land of Creativity
Another intrinsic aspect of local culture is found in a variety of art, music, theatre, literature, and dance. Theatres, pubs, and outdoor venues host musicians of the region. Galleries showcase local arts and crafts. Communities host numerous festivals throughout the year that highlight their local economy, food, history, environment, recreation, culture, and art. Native festivals celebrate language, music, dance, and traditional crafts. Filmmakers and writers inspired by the landscape incorporate it into current works. Evolving cultural events shedding new light on past traditions include a strong local food system; a fine arts community; revival of traditional fairgrounds; an academy of modern music; and social/professional networking events.
Historic Quality encompasses legacies of the past that are distinctly associated with physical elements of the landscape, whether natural or manmade, that are of such historic significance that they educate the viewer and stir an appreciation for the past. The historic elements reflect the actions of people and may include buildings, settlement patterns, and other examples of human activity. Historic features can be inventoried, mapped, and interpreted. They possess integrity of location, design, setting, material, workmanship, feeling, and association. (FHWA Interim Policy, May 18, 1995)
The Bold Coast region has a lively history of early European settlement and revolutionary battles. Historic structures, many dating back to the American Revolution, are found in every village. Several Bold Coast towns have large historic districts with numerous homes listed on the National Historic Register. Historically significant structures, including homes, businesses, factories, and lighthouses, are meticulously preserved and open to the public as museums.
Europeans first settled the Bold Coast region in 1604, when Samuel Champlain and his fellow French explorer, Sieur de Monts, along with a band of soldiers and traders spent the winter on St. Croix Island. From here, Champlain explored the coast of New England as far south as Cape Cod. In 1805, after 35 of the original settlers died that winter, the settlement moved in to Nova Scotia. St. Croix Island is now an international historic national monument.
The first naval battle of the Revolutionary War was fought at Machias from land and sea. The British schooner “Margaretta” was captured by the “unity”, crewed by American residents, with the loss of only one man on the American side. The captain of the British craft died that night in the Burnham Tavern in Machias (now a museum).
The Passamaquoddy people fought actively alongside American troops. In August of 1777, marksman Francis Joseph Neptune is said to have killed the captain of a British vessel with a flintlock rifle from about ¾ to 1 mile away. The combined uproar and confusion from American and Wabanaki forces caused the British to hastily retreat and permanently abandon their attempts to control Machias.
During the war of 1812 Washington County was disputed territory. The British seized Eastport with a British fleet of a dozen warships, capturing the fort without a fight, and occupied Eastport’s Fort Sullivan (part of which is now a museum) for 4 years. The British also captured Fort O’Brien (now a historic site) in Machiasport in 1814, with no shots being fired. The capture of Machias, the last remaining American position east of Penobscot Bay, allowed the British to secure approximately 100 miles of coastline.
Campobello Island is best known as the favorite summer home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but has its own rich history of Passamaquoddy, French, and British settlement prior to that. Franklin D. Roosevelt spent his summers on Campobello from infancy, and, as an adult, acquired a 34-room home, which became his family’s summer retreat until 1939. His son, FDR Jr., was born on Campobello Island. In August 1921, while vacationing on Campobello Island, the future president fell ill with a paralytic illness, thought at the time to be polio, and was permanently paralyzed from the waist down. The property remained in President Roosevelt’s family until 1952. Eleanor Roosevelt last visited the home in 1962 when she attended the opening of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Bridge connecting Campobello Island to Lubec. The Roosevelt home is now open to the public as part of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park.
Lighthouses once provided life-saving light beacons and foghorns to coastal seafarers during howling storms, dense fog, and black nights. Many of these lighthouses were located on remote and barren islands and ledges, where families and individuals lived and were tasked with keeping the lights burning. Although modern navigational systems have removed the need for manned lighthouses, some of these iconic buildings, preserved by individuals and historic organizations, still serve as way finders along the rugged coastline. Ten lighthouses are still in existence along the US portion of the scenic byway, with another several in New Brunswick immediately accessible from Eastport and Lubec.
The commercial lobster fishery began in eastern Maine around 1850, when special sailing vessels that allow seawater to flush through lobster holds began to sail “Downeast” to harvest or purchase fresh lobster. Cooking lobsters for market paved the way for canning. Eastport had four canneries exclusively packing lobster, along with other canneries in Jonesboro, Cape Split (South Addison), and Milbridge. After 1885, lobster pounds began replacing canneries, and fresh shipments became most common.
At one time, nearly 30 smokehouses and 23 sardine plants operated on the Lubec shoreline alone! It is said that fish scales coated the street and that the smoked herring business employed every male resident over the age of ten. The shoreline of the entire region was packed with fish weirs, wharves, canneries, and smokehouses that processed several types of seafood. Whole families worked in the sardine canneries. McCurdy’s Smokehouse (now a museum) was the last commercial smokehouse in the US until it closed in 1991.
Lobster pounds, aquaculture pens, and modern seafood processing factories are common on the coastline today, although the remains of old canneries, wharves, and weirs, often quite dilapidated, can still be found.
Scenic Quality is the heightened visual experience derived from the view of natural and manmade elements of the visual environment of the scenic byway corridor. The characteristics of the landscape are strikingly distinct and offer a pleasing and most memorable visual experience. All elements of the landscape—landform, water, vegetation, and manmade development—contribute to the quality of the corridor’s visual environment. Everything present is in harmony and shares in the intrinsic qualities. (FHWA Interim Policy, May 18, 1995)
The natural landscape of the Bold Coast region has remained largely undeveloped, especially in the Cobscook Bay and Inland Lakes sub-regions. Many early settlements in the Bold Coast region evolved to include the historic villages, bustling fishing ports, and expansive blueberry fields we see today, but have retained their natural character. Historic patterns of development resulted in homes and businesses being concentrated in small village centers. Newer commercial development is often concentrated at major crossroads and at the outskirts of villages. The negative visual effects of industrial development remain very low compared to many communities. It is this harmonious integration of human existence amidst the bold wilds of coastal Downeast Maine that underlies the bounty of Scenic Qualities along the Byway.
The Bold Coast traveler experiences a wealth of expansive and intimate vistas that showcase the natural and cultural splendors of the region. The Byway winds through landscapes rich with scenes that have inspired painters, sculptors, writers and photographers for centuries. Rough granite coastlines and colorful pebble beaches characterize the Byway. These landscapes provide quiet nooks where marine life can be observed, and where salt spray, sunshine, and fresh air heal the body and restore the soul. Undeveloped forests, wetlands, and lakes provide intimate glimpses of colorful wildflowers and elusive wildlife. The hills, valleys, coastlines, and rivers reveal subtle clues of glacially formed landscapes not yet hidden by time.
Cultural And Historic Allure
Traditional ways of making a living offer a sometimes-idyllic human element in the natural landscape. Through much of the Byway route, visitors enjoy vast panoramas over blueberry fields, where distant mountains and brilliant sunsets preside; ocean vistas enchant the visitor with fishing vessels steaming toward open waters in the glow of the rising sun. In Milbridge, Cherryfield, Machias, East Machias, Machiasport, Lubec, Dennysville, and Eastport the Byway visitor can meander through historic villages hugging coastal harbors and riverfronts, replete with lovingly maintained architectural gems of the 18th and 19th
centuries. In Milbridge, Addison, Cutler, Jonesport, Machiasport, and Lubec, working and preserved lighthouses cling to rugged granite outcrops, some visible from land, some requiring visitation by water. Milbridge, Jonesport, Cutler, Eastport, and Lubec are quintessential fishing villages, their harbors teeming with boats and their docks stacked high with lobster pots.
Natural Quality applies to those features in the visual environment that are in a relatively undisturbed state. These features predate the arrival of human populations and may include geological formations, fossils, landform, water bodies, vegetation, and wildlife. There may be evidence of human activity, but the natural features reveal minimal disturbances. (FHWA Interim Policy, May 18, 1995)
From beginning to end, the Bold Coast Scenic Byway is characterized by rocky coastlines, sparkling harbors, colorful beaches, mysterious fog banks, dense forests, vast fields, salt and freshwater marshes, clear rivers and streams, glorious sunrises and sunsets, and a dark night sky brilliant with stars.
The natural bounty of the environment is intrinsic to the livelihood and quality of life of the people that have persisted in this region through time. Historically, the region has relied on forest products, farming, fishing, and shipbuilding as its main economic basis. In more recent times, tourism plays an increasingly significant role in the Bold Coast economy. These occupations can affect the integrity of the natural landscape, however, they also depend on it. For centuries the people of the Bold Coast region have worked with the land—and have perhaps been shaped by
the land even more than they have shaped it!
The climate of the Bold Coast region is a direct result of its relationship with the Gulf of Maine. The wind blowing off the water creates cooler summer temperatures and milder winters, high annual precipitation, frequent summer fog, and rapidly changing conditions at any time of the year. The average low winter temperature in Eastport is about 15° F, and the average high summer temperature in Eastport is about 63° F. More precipitation falls in the Bold Coast region in the winter and in summers the coastline is sometimes veiled in a shroud of fog. Brilliant sunshine, balmy temperatures, and clear blue skies also occur at any time of the year. Changing weather patterns can create dramatic backdrops as well as intense light and color for breathtaking photographs.
Flora And Fauna
The Byway carries travelers through landscapes with little evidence of human activity. These landscapes support abundant populations of native plants, birds, and animals, and provide critical habitat to many species of endangered, threated, and protected plants and animals—among the most well known are the Atlantic salmon, bald eagle, New England cottontail, Atlantic puffin, and Showy Orchis. Iconic species such as moose, white-tailed deer, black bear, lobster, chickadee, white pine, and sugar maple are supported in abundance, as well as many, many others such as the seal, osprey, river otter, beaver, bobcat, and owl. Bird watching, berry picking, botanizing, and animal tracking opportunities abound, and many registered guides are available to assist visitors.
The diversity of the region’s landscapes, from rocky beaches to inland forests, from vast peat bogs to open fields, contributes to the diversity of local plant and animal life. The coastal forests and peat lands thrive on the cool growing season, ample moisture supply, and fog-laden winds that characterize the region’s climate. Forests are lush and diverse; the forest floor is thick and spongy with sphagnum moss. Pine, birch, maple, spruce, oak, cedar, ash, beech, hemlock, and others mingle with hundreds of species of shrubs, flowers, ferns, grasses, mosses, and mushrooms, creating not only wildlife habitat but also igniting a blaze of fall foliage color that is dazzling on a sunlit day.
In autumn, roughly from the end of September though the end of October, the shortening daylight and decreasing temperatures cause trees to stop producing chlorophyll, which creates the green pigment of summer leaves. In autumn, the underlying glory of other pigments is revealed, and the forests glow luminescent as if lit from within. Bold Coast vistas are streaked with fluorescent shades of red, orange, and yellow, slowly growing in intensity from the first occasional clusters of color to a culminating crescendo that overtakes the landscape with its vibrancy, then slowly softens again into the rusty browns of winter coming on.
And again in May, this same range of color emerges in a pastel echo of the autumn, as the emerging buds and flowers of trees provide habitat for returning songbirds.
The Bold Coast landscape tells the geological story of how the area was shaped by glacial influence. The region boasts easily visible moraines, kettle holes, eskers, and large granite boulders (called glacial erratics). The Ice Age Trail helps visitors understand the evolution of Maine’s landscape over centuries as they follow an interpretive trail map to 46 stops where the effects of glacial action and sea-level change are visible.
Elevations in the Bold Coast region are generally less than 100’ above sea level. Topography is steepest in areas with granite bedrock, where jutting ledge outcrops and granite domes contribute to the bold character of the landscape. The lower elevations from Roque Bluffs to East Quoddy Head occur where the finer-grained intrusive and metamorphic rocks have been worn down over time. Bedrock is predominantly igneous, except for outcrops of meta-volcanic rocks near Columbia Falls and in the Cobscook Bay area.
The porous sand and gravel deposits of eskers and deltas contribute to the Maine economy by storing great quantities of water and by providing aggregate for construction. Blueberries thrive in the sandy soil deposits of eskers, deltas, and moraines. Marine clay once deposited beneath the glacial sea covers the region, preserving a variety of fossil remains. The natural blue-gray clay once provided material for the brick and tile manufacturing industry of Maine, and is used today in making artisan pottery. The clay holds moisture, thus causing expansion and contraction of the road surface during freeze/thaw cycles, resulting in the bumps and potholes encountered every spring and fall in the roads of Byway communities.
The ocean’s tidal range along the Bold Coast fluctuates an average of 18 feet, twice daily, with occasional high ranges of over 20 feet. During these extreme low tides, opportunities abound for exploring sea life up close in the myriad salt-water pools and the exposed, seaweed-covered ocean bottom in the region’s many bays, coves and harbors. Tidal currents coming together between Eastport and Deer Island, N.B., form the “Old Sow,” a saltwater whirlpool, and the dramatic rise and fall of the tides causes the Reversing Falls at Mahar’s Point in West Pembroke. Estuaries, where fresh and salt water merge at the mouths of streams and rivers, create a unique and rich ecosystem with its own communities of plants and animals and its own palette of seasonal colors. Visitors can explore the Bold Coast from the water via the Maine Island Trail, kayaking close by curious seals, glimpsing the shrieking liveliness of off-shore rookeries, marveling at the color and variety of starfish and sea weeds revealed on ledges at low tide, watching fish swim through shallow estuaries, witnessing the drama of sunrise reflected from the ocean, and reveling in the healing solitude of silence on the pocket beaches of uninhabited islands.
The clean fresh water of the lakes, rivers, and streams of the Bold Coast region supports abundant species of fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal, insect, and plant life. Riparian plants brush the water’s edges with fragrant swaths of purple, yellow, and white blooms. Swimming in the clear, cool water leaves one’s body and spirit cleansed and refreshed. The loon calls over misty waters, and, on a windless day, one can see silvery trout flitting all the way at the bottom. Children can catch frogs at pond edges, chase dragonflies from lily pad to lily pad, let minnows tickle their toes, and pick the puff from cat-o-nine-tails. Paddlers might get a secret glimpse of eagles tending their nest, startle turtles basking on partially submerged logs, catch a beaver tending its dam, or secretly witness the tireless stare of the great blue heron at hunt.
Recreational Quality involves outdoor recreational activities directly associated with and dependent upon the natural and cultural elements of the corridor’s landscape. The recreational activities provide opportunities for active and passive recreational experiences. They include, but are not limited to, downhill skiing, rafting, boating, fishing, and hiking. Driving the road itself may qualify as a pleasurable recreational experience. The recreational activities may be seasonal, but the quality and importance of the recreational activities as seasonal operations must be well recognized. (FHWA Interim Policy, May 18, 1995)
The Bold Coast region boasts diverse active and leisure recreational opportunities all year round. The quiet, lightly developed, and sometimes remote corners of coastal Washington County offer cool forests for hunting and hiking, clear lakes and streams for fishing and swimming, endless ocean and offshore islands for paddling and sailing, coastal marshes for bird watching and botanizing, dramatic and subtle landscapes for painting and photographing, and a well-connected system of motorized and non-motorized regional trails for mountain biking, snowmobiling, ATV riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hiking. The Bold Coast Scenic Byway and the communities it connects offer fabulous vistas and winding roadways for the recreational driver, with numerous scenic pullouts, overlook trails, and picnic areas along the way.
Some organized recreational activities include a 9-hole golf course and a mini-golf course. Registered Maine Guides are available to take visitors hiking, hunting, bird watching, mushroom picking, and wildlife watching. Businesses offer chartered commercial fishing, sightseeing, and sailing tours and guided kayaking and canoeing tours. Local land trusts and state preserves offer guided nature tours of their trails, focusing on local plants, wildlife, and natural history. Kayaks, canoes, and bikes are available for independent travelers to rent. Trail guides and local knowledge are readily available online or in information centers, gas stations, art galleries, and restaurants.
Archeological quality involves those characteristics of the scenic byways corridor that are physical evidence of historic or prehistoric human life or activity that are visible and capable of being inventoried and interpreted. The scenic byway corridor’s archaeological interest, as identified through ruins, artifacts, structural remains, and other physical evidence have scientific significance that educate the viewer and stir an appreciation for the past. (FHWA Interim Policy, May 18, 1995)
As associated with cultural and historical qualities described above, archeological qualities do exist in the Bold Coast region. However, issues and challenges associated with development of archeological sites as visitor destinations are well known. Sites and artifacts are often fragile, and hold profound cultural meaning for living populations. Disturbing these sites can represent cultural and even religious desecration. Although the Byway may attempt to provide broad interpretation of prehistoric activities associated with the landscape, there is currently no intention to point out specific sites of archeological significance.