Way DownEast History
The history of Way DownEast is rich and varied. Artifacts show that the Wabanaki/Abnaki people lived here for many centuries and their descendants are still here today. Norsemen visited the area in the 11th century and French explorers attempted a settlement on St. Croix Island in 1604, visible now from the St. Croix Island International Historic Site.
As is the case in much of the state, this area was permanently settled by the English in the latter half of the 1700's and remained part of Massachusetts until 1820.
Herring Fishing and the canning industry that grew along with it were significant to the development of coastal towns such as Lubec. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, the natural surroundings and clear air attracted "rusticators" from the cities who yearned to experience a simpler way of life during the summer. Franklin Roosevelt's beloved summer home on Campobello Island, Canada, just over the bridge from Lubec, is wonderful example of that era.
Eastport, a city also involved in the herring industry, was a strategic trading city because of its deep water port. It was captured by the British in the war of 1812 and was not returned to the United States until 1818 making it the last bit of real estate to have been held by Great Britain. The waterfront has been designated a National Historic Waterfront District. Eastport is also home to Maine's oldest retail business and America's last stone-ground mustard mill.
Lumbering and shipbuilding were also important industries in the region. During the 1870's the city of Calais, for example, was home port to over 175 sailing vessels. Historic districts in Calais and Dennysville offer a unique glimpse into the past. You won't want to miss Grand Lake Stream, tidy in its preserved Victorian splendor, where fishing is a historic tradition that continues today.