Last weekend I left New York and drove. I crossed the Penobscot Bay and the Deer Isle causeway and drove until I wasn’t able to go any further without being in the ocean. I had reached my destination, the charming fishing village, Stonington, Maine.
Originally settled in the early 1800’s by farmers and fisherman, Stonington, one of the few remaining working waterfront villages in Maine, overlooks a majestic archipelago of more than 60 islands. Most of the downtown buildings that hug the harbor, were built in the 1800’s and retain the charm.
Stonington boasted 12 operating quarries in the 1890’s; some right here in town. They employed stonecutters, blacksmiths, teamsters and laborers. Many were experienced foreign workers from Italy, Scotland and Norway. On Deer Isle, just about every foundation, wharf and road bed is made from Stonington granite. Local granite was also used for the John F. Kennedy memorial at Arlington Cemetery.
Stonington’s main industry is fishing and fishing related services. Lobsters and clams presently dominate the industry; however, crabs, scallops and halibut are also fished. In 2014, over 16 million lbs. of lobster were caught in these waters, giving Stonington the distinction of being the #1 fishing port in Maine. Because of this, island men are known worldwide for the seamanship, often leaving the island to crew all over the world.
The first tourists arrived as early as the 1880’s. That amazes me. Steamships carried passengers from Mount Desert, who were offered lobster feasts upon arrival. The Hotel Stonington offered hot & cold running water and fine dining at that time. Visitors then, and today, could find entertainment at the Opera House, enjoy bicycle riding, day sailing trips and walks overlooking scenic views.
I feel fortunate that travel to this enchanting island is now easier and Stonington has not changed very much through the years. Here all roads lead to the piers and the air is perfumed by fresh ocean water. My short visit will stay with me long after I crossed the bridges back to the mainland. https://visitmaine.com/places-to-go/downeast-and-acadia/stonington/