Historic Sites In Maine. More Than Just Parks has 5 incredible must-see sites for you to visit.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
I’m going to give you my list of the Top 5 Historic Sites In Maine that you’ll want to see.
To be clear, this list includes national park sites (as in sites managed by the National Park Service) as well as national parks.
If you’re planning a trip to the Pine Tree State then one book that I recommend is: Historic Maine Homes: 300 Years of Great Houses by Christopher Glass.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Historic Sites In Maine
5. Maine Acadian Culture
We begin at #5 with our list of the Top Five Historic Sites In Maine with the Maine Acadian Culture.
The Acadians were the descendants of the French who settled in America during the 17th and 18th centuries. Acadia National Park was named to honor their heritage and contributions to the region.
Acadia was located in what is now Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces, as well as parts of Quebec, present-day Maine to the Kennebec River, and on the West coast of Newfoundland.
Though it is officially part of the National Park System, none of the sites are operated by the National Park Service. Instead they are run by the Maine Acadian Heritage Council (a local non-profit) with support from the National Park Service.
The 17 buildings overlooking the St. John River in the Acadian Village retain the cultural heritage of the Acadians who settled in the St. John Valley during the mid-eighteenth century.
Places To Be Explored
Among the places to be explored are the following:
- Acadian Landing & Tante Blanche Museum
- Acadian Village
- Allagash Wilderness Waterway
- B & A Caboose and Green Water Tank
- B & A Railroad Turntable
- Fort Kent Blockhouse
- Fort Kent Railroad Station
- Historic Governor Brann Schoolhouse
With so many interesting places, I recommend that you research the ones of particular interest to you before you depart on your adventure.
Developing an itinerary or a plan of attack will give you the opportunity to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to exploring.
Historic Sites In Maine
2. St. Croix National Historic Site
At #4 on our list of the best historic sites in Maine is St. Croix National Historic Site.
Saint Croix Island International Historic Site commemorates the 1604 site of the first French attempt to colonize the territory they called l’Acadie. It is one of the earliest European settlements in North America.
Among those who wintered on the island during 1604-1605 was the famed explorer Samuel de Champlain.
Champlain was a French colonist, navigator, cartographer, draftsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler best known for founding Quebec.
The noted author and historian David Hackett Fischer wrote a wonderful biography of Champlain’s explorations titled Champlain’s Dream.
Congress authorized the establishment of Saint Croix Island National Monument in 1949, which became effective on June 30, 1968, and designated it as an international historic site on September 25, 1984.
About This Site
This small National Park Service site tells the story of the interaction between early French Settlers and Native Americans in what would mark the beginning of permanent European settlement in North America.
St. Croix Island itself is in the middle of the US – Canada boundary and is jointly protected by both countries, there is no public access allowed on the island due to dangerous currents and for the protection of the island.
The small National Park Service site is located in Calais, Maine and overlooks the island with a short interpretive trail and and places to sit and enjoy the scenery.
Things To Do at Saint Croix Island International Historic Site
It’s a very small site and frankly there isn’t a whole lot to do, but it’s well worth checking out if you’re in the area.
- Walk the Interpretive Trail – The historic site has a very nice paved 0.2 mile interpretive trail with signs and statues telling the story of the area.
- Bird Watch – The area is great for bird watchers and provides opportunities to see bald eagles, ospreys, and a number of other interesting birds.
- Have a Picnic – Sites like this are the perfect quiet spot to enjoy a picnic lunch and take in the scenery.
Check Out Nearby St. Stephen & St. Andrews Too
In nearby St. Stephen and St. Andrews, you will find a variety of museums and historic sites, recreational opportunities, restaurants, shops, and hotel accommodations.
It’s definitely worth a visit!
CHECK OUT: ALL 63 NATIONAL PARKS RANKED BY EXPERTS
Historic Sites In Maine
3. Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail
At #3 on our list of the best historic sites in Maine we have the Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail.
It’s the longest hiking trail in the world.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a marked hiking trail that runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Just how long a hike is that? Approximately 2,200 miles.
The original concept for the Appalachian Trail was the brainchild of Benton MacKaye. MacKaye was a forester, planner and social reformer who wrote a 1921 article in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects first proposing it.
In MacKaye’s original vision, the Appalachian Trail would put back together the various parts of American life that were rapidly coming undone in the early 20th century.
It would fuse leisure and industry, environment and labor, community development and wilderness preservation into an interrelated project.
Giving City Dwellers An Escape
MacKaye wanted to give city dwellers an escape from their humdrum urban existences. His bold proposal was nothing less than a wholesale reinvention of social life, economic organization, and land use.
The trail was built by private citizens and completed in 1937. It is managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, numerous state agencies and thousands of volunteers.
It’s a truly magnificent hiking trail traversing the scenic, wooded, pastoral and wild lands of the Appalachian Mountains.
You’re Never Too Old Or Young To Hike The Appalachian Trail
Think you’re too old for the Appalachian Trail? Think again! M.J. “Sunny” Eberhart strode into the record books as the oldest hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail. Eberhart is an 83 year old from Alabama who is best known for by his trail name Nimblewill Nomad.
At the other end of the age spectrum, we have five-year old Harvey Sutton who completed the Appalachian Trail over the summer. Nimblewill and Harvey prove that you’re never too old or young to complete this amazing trek.
Historic Sites In Maine
2. Roosevelt Campobello International Park
In the runner-up spot at #2 is Roosevelt Campobello International Park.
As historian William E. Leuchtenburg, professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill concluded, Franklin D. Roosevelt may have done more during the twelve years he served as president to change American society and politics than any of his predecessors in the White House, save Abraham Lincoln.
Roosevelt led the nation through the twin crises of the Great Depression and World War Two. In the process, he transformed the role of the federal government. The programs unleashed by FDR’s New Deal sought to insure that the economic, social, and political benefits of American capitalism were distributed more equally among America’s large and diverse populace.
FDR also transformed the American presidency. Under his leadership, the President’s duties grew to encompass not only those of the chief executive—as implementer of policy—but also chief legislator—as drafter of policy. He greatly increased both the powers and the responsibilities of the office.
Now there are more biographies about one of America’s greatest presidents then you might realize, but three of my favorites (and yes I’ve read all of these too!) are: Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life by Robert Dallek, Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by H. W. Brands, and Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny by Frank Freidel.
The Site Is Not Actually In Maine, But It’s Close Enough
While technically not in Maine as it lies on an island in New Brunswick, this unique National Park Service Unit is a must-see for American history buffs.
Roosevelt Campobello International Park lies just across the U.S. – Canada border and is jointly administered by the National Park Service and Parks Canada.
The park preserves Franklin Roosevelt’s beloved summer home on Campobello Island where he spent a great deal of his time prior to his polio diagnosis enjoying the immense beauty that surrounded him.
Things To Do & See At Roosevelt Campobello International Park
The Visitor Center
A trip to Campobello should begin with a visit to the visitor center. There you will find exhibits about FDR. There’s also a wonderful short film: “Outer Island/Beloved Island,” produced by the Roosevelt Campobello International Commission.
A small bookstore features a limited selection of memorabilia.
Visitors can tour the home and see artifacts from Roosevelt’s time at Campobello. Guides are stationed throughout the Roosevelt Cottage to answer questions.
Rooms that are on display include the following: (1) President Roosevelt’s office from his 1933 visit and his bedroom, (2) Mrs. Roosevelt’s writing room, (3) living room, dining room, and kitchen, (4) laundry and Nursery and (5) family bedrooms.
Other Things To See At Campobello
There are 8.4 miles of driving roads located in the park’s 2,800 acres, and eight miles of walking trails. You can wander the trails individually for a short hike or combine them for longer hikes. You can see bogs, forests, shoreline, beaches, and more.
Getting to Roosevelt Campobello International Park
The park is located just across the border where Lubec, Maine meets New Brunswick, Canada and is connected by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Bridge. All typical border crossing requirements are in place and you’ll need a passport if you’re not Canadian.
Entrance Fees – Roosevelt Campobello International Park
There are no entrance fees to access Roosevelt Campobello International Park!
The #1 Historic Site In Maine
1. Acadia National Park
Our #1 Historic Site in Maine is Acadia National Park.
Along the rocky shores of Maine’s coast you’ll find this easternmost national park.
Once the exclusive domain of the gilded age elite, a few civic-minded residents decided to make Acadia’s beauty available to all Americans by donating the land to the national park service – and boy am I glad they did.
With rounded mountains, shimmering lakes (called ponds here) , rugged coastline, and forests dotted with old stone roads and trails this New England national treasure is the crown jewel of Maine’s outdoor destinations.
Acadia Was Created Entirely By Private Land Donations
Acadia National Park was the first national park to be created east of the Mississippi River.
One of the most interesting Acadia National Park Facts is this: It’s the only national park in the Northeast.
Acadia is a true coastal wonder. Nestled into the far-flung, rocky coast of Maine, this national park is home to majestic forests, tranquil ponds, rounded mountains and wild coastline.
A little history lesson is in order. In 1604, French explorers Sieur de Monts and Samuel de Champlain arrived. They called it “Acadia,” meaning “heaven on earth.” These two explorers claimed much of Maine for their native France. Of course, there’s an old saying, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.“ As we know, Maine did not become a part of the French Empire.
Much later, however, the area did become a summer retreat for America’s elite. The area comprising Acadia National Park was given back to the people by conservation-minded locals led by George Dorr.
Check Out Our Stunning Film
Acadia is the culmination of several weeks spent exploring Acadia National Park during peak fall color. This film is, in part, a celebration of Acadia’s upcoming centennial. It is dedicated to George Dorr.
Sculpted by Glaciers and landscaped by beavers, Acadia is full of wonderfully unique features. Rounded mountains, tranquil ponds, rocky coastline, & some of the most beautiful trails in the world comprise this marvelous wonder.
This film was shot entirely in 4K.
Tips For Avoiding The Crowds
Crowds can be a real issue here, particularly in the summer, so be sure plan accordingly. Parking can be very limited and the park roads can be very congested.
Also campgrounds and hotels are very hard to come by during the busy summer months.
Fall offers a slight reprieve from the summer crowds, but not much as it’s no secret that Acadia is a world-class leaf-peeping destination.
Best Things to Do at Acadia National Park
- Go Leaf Peeping – Acadia National Park is a world-class leaf-peeping destination that draws people from all over the world to see its vivid autumn colors. The best time to go is usually in early October.
- Take in the Sunrise atop Cadillac Mountain – (Reservations are required) You can be among the first in the United States to greet the sun from atop Cadillac Mountain, oh and enjoy breathtaking views!
- Drive the park loop road – Acadia is a great park to relax and go for a scenic drive. The roads wind along spectacular ocean views and through beaufitul forest with countless overlooks and opportunities to pull off and take in the views.
- Lobstah! – No trip to Acadia, or Maine, is complete without some lobstah! You’ll know you’re close when you see the boiling cauldrons outside!
To Learn More About This Amazing Park Check Out: 11 AMAZING Facts About Acadia National Park
Map Of Historic Sites In Maine
List Of Historic Sites In Maine
- Acadia National Park
- Roosevelt Campobello International Park
- Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail
- St. Croix National Historic Site
- Maine Acadian Culture
About The People Behind More Than Just Parks
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and proud dad of these two guys hopelessly obsessed with the national parks.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested joining the adventure, sign up below!