The Maine Sculpture Trail
If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors that isn’t too strenuous, consider the Maine Sculpture Trail, an art installation along almost 300 miles of the Maine Coast.
The trail consists of 34 granite sculptures made by artists from all over the world. These artists came to Down East Maine, during the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Steuben resident Jesse Salisbury was the driving force behind the creation of the trail. He organized the symposium as a way to spark cultural activity in the area and, in the process, created a large, public art collection.
Washington County is home to 10 of the sculptures. In geographic order, they are found in Steuben, Milbridge, Harrington, Addison, Jonesport, Roque Bluffs, Machias, Lubec, Eastport and Calais.
Most of them are easily accessed from Route 1, a.k.a., the Bold Coast Scenic Byway. Following the trail gives you a chance to get off the beaten path and see the towns and villages along the coast that you might otherwise miss. The Steuben sculpture is located at the Henry D. Moore Library and Parish House, just a hop, skip and a jump from Route 1. History buffs can also visit a Civil War monument nearby.
The sculpture in Milbridge is located at the end of School Street, along the Narraguagus River. Enjoy the view from Adirondack chairs situated next to the sculpture. Those up for a short walk can take a stroll through Riverside Park.
Fuel up with breakfast at the Milbridge House. Then, enjoy a meal later in the day at Deano’s Takeout, Vazquez Mexican Takeout, The Wheelhouse or the Good N Plenty Buffet. The Meadow’s Takeout in Steuben offers excellent fare as well. Overnight accommodations are available at the Red Barn Motel in Milbridge.
From Milbridge, take Route 1A to the next sculpture, located inside a paved walking track next to the Harrington Health Center. It can be seen from the highway or you can park and enjoy a walk around the loop.
Many of the sculptures are located on the water. In Addison Point Park, you can see the sculpture as well as a lovely view of the Pleasant River. The next one, located in a Jonesport town park, also overlooks the water. After that, visit the sculpture in Roque Bluffs State Park, where you can enjoy hiking, swimming and picnicking.
In Machias, look for the sculpture on the campus of the University of Maine at Machias. While you’re in town, explore the waterfall and grounds at Bad Little Falls Park.
Machias offers numerous options for food and lodging. Restaurant options include Helen’s, the Bluebird Ranch, Skywalker’s/Machias River Brewing and Pat’s Pizza. You can stay at the Machias River Inn or the Bluebird Motel.
The sculpture in Lubec is situated in Stockford Park, just outside of town. In the background, you can see the bridge from Lubec to Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Lubec is also home to the Lost Fishermen’s Memorial, which Salisbury was commissioned to create. For good food and cold brews, the main attraction is Lubec Brewing Co., which opens at 2 p.m. Thurs-Sun and serves dinner, starting at 5 p.m.
Taking the trip to Eastport may seem far off off the beaten path, but the drive is worth it. To reach the Eastport sculpture, turn off Route 1 onto Route 190 and follow that for about seven miles into town. The sculpture is downtown, in the midst of a quaint shopping district overlooking the water. There, you can catch several other sculptures, including one of a mermaid.
Then, from there head back up to Calais up to Route 1, where the sculpture is located downtown in front of the library. Visitors can check out the antique shops downtown as well as Wabanaki Culture Center, which illustrates how the Native Americans of the area have lived in the outdoors.
Salisbury worked with writers and photographers to produce the book, Creating the Maine Sculpture Trail: Legacy of the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium. The book, which covers the history of the trail, is available for sale at schoodicsculpture.org. Sculpture maps can also be downloaded from this site.
— Text & photos: Johanna S. Billings. Johanna is an award-winning writer/photographer and antiques dealer based in Steuben. She enjoys visiting the sculptures along the trail.