From Orland, a few miles east of Bucksport along US 1, ME 175/166 heads south to the dignified and historic village of Castine. Following an eventful history, today’s Castine is charming, quiet and refreshingly off the beaten track. Almost all of its houses were built before 1900, so it’s easy to get a feel for how this seaside town would have been during Maine’s early settlement days. It’s also the home of the Maine Maritime Academy and its big training ship, the State of Maine (1952), which you can visit.
In 1613, seven years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, the French founded Fort Pentagöet – which later became Castine – to serve as a trading post. It was the site of battle after battle through the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the French and Indian Wars. The French, English, Dutch and Americans all fought for a niche on this bulge of land that extends into Penobscot Bay.
Castine is a good place to appreciate pre-tourist-boom Maine. It’s a gorgeous village with none of the kitsch you’d stumble across in Boothbay Harbor, Bar Harbor or Camden. Tourists that do visit, tend to be a slightly crusty East Coast crowd.
Castine is small enough to be easily traversed on foot. Pick up the free map entitled A Walking Tour of Castine, readily available at establishments in town.