If you have ever driven along Route 1 headed towards the Boothbay Region from the southern part of the state you have passed through Bath, Maine. You would remember it – It has a very unique profile. Bath, built along the shores of the Kennebec River and unlike the towns of Boothbay Harbor or Damariscotta for instance, is a city. On one side of Route 1, the view is that of a very typical New England city – tall white church spires, domed public buildings and preserved remnants of impressive 18th and 19th century mansions and storefronts. On the other side of Route 1 is one of the city’s crown jewels: the Bath Iron Works (BIW).
This center of shipbuilding is outlined by the massive cranes which tower above the facility where state-of-the-art military vessels are still built. And just beyond BIW is the other of the crown jewels in the City of Bath: the Maine Maritime Museum.
Now several times this winter, Richard and I have set off to explore any number of sites within a half hour’s drive of Hodgdon Island Inn and Boothbay, and somehow we have found ourselves back at this, and I quote, “mecca for boat lovers” and history buffs.
It is no wonder that the Maine Maritime Museum is the state’s premier marine museum! The setting, on 20 acres along the Kennebec River, includes the award-winning Maritime History Building and Welcome Center (where the permanent and temporary displays are housed along with the gift shop), the restored original buildings from the Percy & Small Shipyard where wooden schooners were built in the 19th century; a late Victorian home; and the boat shop where volunteer craftsman build and restore small boats. The displays and artifacts are amazing! The staff welcoming and the volunteers enthusiastic and knowledgeable!
On February 19th, a new exhibit opened in the John G. Morse, Jr. Gallery. It is called “Cold Waters, Cold War: The 21st Century Navy in Maine”. It is an amazing story about the part Maine played in naval and defense operations during the Cold War. If you’re a Tom Clancy fan, you definitely don’t want to miss this! If you consider yourself a patriot, you definitely don’t want to miss this either! The exhibit runs through August 7, 2011.
To get to the museum (www.MaineMaritimeMuseum.org) from Hodgdon Island Inn, Boothbay: take Barter’s Island Road, making a slight left on to Corey Lane which becomes ME-27. Take ME-27 to US-1 South. Take US 1 South to exit for ME-209/DOWNTOWN HISTORIC BATH/PHIPPSBURG (you’ll be on Vine Street). Turn LEFT under bridge on to Washington Street. Go past BIW and MMM will be on the LEFT.