Lubec Maine is a tiny town that is tucked into the most eastern part of the United States. Bordered by Canada, many people know it because of West Quoddy Head Light. Yet there is so much more to Lubec. It is a tiny town that is reinventing itself.
I went there as a child and fell in love. It quiet nature and history caught my attention. The first thing that you notice is the temperature drop. Being on the point, closer to the open ocean, Lubec is often colder than surrounding areas. It is also prone to fog, which creates a new landscape in its own right. After you bear to the right you notice the border crossing, Homeland securities white SUV’s with the blue stripe. The green international bridge curves up over Lubec Narrows before arriving at Campobello Island and Canada.
As you turn left and enter town there is the collection of old buildings that line Water Street. They are painted in many colors, and each has unique signs that separate it from the rest. There are also the old worn gray shingled buildings that are a standby. Light posts stand like sentries, and the American flags that are attached to them flutter gently in the breeze coming off the bay.
Brick and granite sidewalks lead visitors around the tiny town. Everywhere you look there is history, and its heavy presence draws me in. Like many places in Downeast, there is a mystique that hangs around the beautiful landscape. It is a place that I looked forward to returning to each year. Yet work and other responsibilities got in the way as I got older. It has been seven years since I had been here. This year I finally got my opportunity to return.
I found the quiet streets much as I had left them. Many shops and galleries call Water Street home. Several restaurants and inns are doing quite well, which made me happy. Many of the small stores are open, and we peeked into windows and see the goods and art that they carry. Here and there we saw For Sale signs hanging in the windows. These reminded us in a humble way of the hardships that folks face up here.
Further out the old smokehouse sit in the water. They have sat, unused for many years. Their condition deteriorates with each passing season. The pilings have begun to rot and there are holes in the roof. Grey shingles have fallen off leaving large holes. They are building that have been forsaken.
I scampered down the beach, and walked across the beach littered with broken glass. Quietly, I tried to remember a time before the smokehouses shut down. A time when close by Eastport was a bustling city. Lubec is a city that saw great growth with the fishing industry. Yet as the fish populations began to dwindle hard times fell on the factories. The factories left and the population dwindled until the only reminder of the past was the old beat up buildings and piles of broken concrete.
It is a small town that is holding on. For many years Summer Keys, a great series of Workshops and concerts has called Lubec home. Many artists reside here as well and their work is displayed in galleries in town. Lubec is also home to several restaurants as well. On many storefronts patriotic bunting hung, below beautiful flower boxes. In the harbor many fishing boats sit in mooring, Eastport across the way.
Tourist walk around the streets, yet it is nothing like Camden or Bar Harbor. Lubec has retained much of its original character. Its off the beaten path, yet that is what makes it special. Often when I come here I love to sit on the edge of the harbor and think. This is a special place that is slowly rediscovering its place in the world.