Historic Attractions in Midcoast Maine
History buffs will be happy to learn that Maine is chock-full of places to discover and learn a bit about Maine’s history. From the state’s maritime heritage to the artists who’ve flocked to its coastline, prominent buildings and heritage sites dot its landscape. Museums, galleries, lighthouses, and family farms, oh my — here are our favorite historical places to visit.
The Boothbay Railway Village is a non-profit organization that operates a narrow gauge coal- red steam train in a recreated historic village composed of locally significant structures. The thirty-acre setting includes more than two dozen buildings many of which are filled with displays of artifacts related to Maine’s railroading history, the advent of the automobile and the everyday life of Mainers from the mid-eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries. Additionally, the museum exhibits one of the best presentations of antique vehicles in New England.
Founded in 1962, the Maine Maritime Museum collects, preserves and interprets materials relating to the maritime history of Maine. Maine’s maritime history is told here daily through gallery exhibits, a historic shipyard, educational programs and narrated boat cruises to points of historic significance and natural beauty. Located on the banks of the Kennebec River and just south of Bath Iron Works, home of “The World’s Greatest Shipbuilders,” the Museum welcomes over 65,000 visitors annually.
Owl’s Head Transportation Museum
The Owl’s Head Transportation Museum has one of the best collections of pioneer-era aircraft and automobiles in the world. More than 100 historic aircraft, automobiles, bicycles, carriages, and engines are on permanent display. The Aircraft Collection contains replicas and originals representing the first century of flight, from Cayley’s unmanned glider (1804) to the legendary Curtiss Jenny of the barnstorming era. An outstanding collection of automobiles spans the late 19th Century and the early 20th Century and includes the 1963 Prototype Mustang and a 1935 Stout Scarab (called the world’s first mini-van, one of only six ever made).
The Farnsworth Art Museum houses the nation’s second-largest collection of works by premier 20th-century sculptor Louise Nevelson and has opened four new galleries to showcase contemporary art. Its Wyeth Center exclusively features works of Andrew, N.C., and Jamie Wyeth—America’s first family of artists. The Farnsworth also owns two other buildings open to the public.
Burnt Island is a beautiful half-acre island owned by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The historic buildings at this active lighthouse station have been carefully restored and transformed into an exceptional educational facility. Hop aboard the Novelty for a 15 minute boat ride to the island. Enjoy a lighthouse tour where keeper Joseph Muise and his family will acquaint you with lighthouse living as it was in the 1950’s. Visit their home and climb the spiral staircase into the lantern room. Learn about Maine’s fisheries, flora, and fauna on your picturesque hike around the 5-acre island.
Boothbay Historical Society
The Boothbay Region Historical Society is located at the 1874 home of Elizabeth F. Reed and its grounds, Fullerton Park. Browse six rooms of artifacts, photographs, maps, and memorabilia. Our collections of town records, local newspapers, family histories, account books, and more are available for those wishing to delve into our colonial and coastal heritage. Whether you visit in search of family roots, or simply enjoy learning about local history, we invite you to enjoy a local treasure!
The Old Jail
The 1811 Old Lincoln County Jail in Wiscasset, with attached 1839 Jailer’s House, offers visitors a rare view into an earlier criminal justice system and the lives of the people who enforced and endured it. Visitors leave with a real sense of the hard work that came with being the jailer’s family, the hard life of the prisoners and the odd juxtaposition of family life and criminal incarceration. Trained docents conduct tours throughout the summer.
Goranson Family Farm
Certified organic sweet corn, potatoes, asparagus, strawberries, pumpkins, and maple syrup are just a few of the things produced at this third generation family-owned farm. The 160-acre farmland, which has been run by the Goranson family since the 1960s, is unusually agriculturally rich, thanks to its location between two rivers (the Kennebec and the Eastern). The farm stand, located on the property, is closed from November to May, with the exception of Maine Maple Weekend (the fourth weekend in March), when the farm’s sugarhouse is open for tours.
Maine Eastern Railroad
One of the most enjoyable—and traffic-free—ways of taking in Maine’s mid-coast is by train. After 50 years, passenger rail service resumed in 2006, to the delight of locals and tourists, who board restored vintage cars from the 1940s and 1950s to trundle along the 57-mile route between Brunswick and Rockland (also making stops in Bath, Boothbay, and Wiscasset), meandering along the water’s edge through marsh and historic villages, and by expanses of ocean and many a clapboard home.
The Olson House
High on Hathorne Point, 14.5 miles from Rockland, is the beautiful and haunting Olson House, subject of hundreds of works of art by Andrew Wyeth. It was here at the former shipmaster’s home—once described by the artist’s wife, Betsy, as “looming up like a weathered ship stranded on a hilltop”—that he painted his most famous work, Christina’s World (now owned by the Museum of Modern Art), in 1948; the canvas depicts a young woman crawling, longingly, up a meadow hill.
Red Cloak Tours
Lantern lit walking tours of 8 Maine towns, discovering ghosts and history, spirits and mystery. Cemetery tours, historical tours, lighthouse tours, driving tours, and more. Bar Harbor, Damariscotta, Wiscasset, Bath, Boothbay Harbor, Rockland, Camden and Hallowell are the towns that offer the evening walking tours. Listed in the Top 10 Most Unforgettable Tours in Maine, the moderate walk is suitable for all.