I’m quickly approaching the end of my way-to-brief holiday to Maine’s midcoast region. There’s time for one more set of vignettes and then I’ll get back to all the geo-oddities I’ve held in reserve awaiting my return. We spent another day relaxing on the water followed by a day meandering our way further up the coastline; a little nature, a little history, and an interesting albeit fairly obscure piece of trivia.
We cruised among the George’s group of islands in Muscongus Bay, south of Port Clyde, courtesy of a package tour available through the Monhegan Boat Line.
View Larger Map
We opted for the Puffin and Nature Cruise over the Lighthouse Cruise, which I know may be surprising to regular readers, but the family was suffering from lighthouse fatigue by this point. No problem. I can do nature (and I saw a bunch of lighthouses from the boat anyway).
I don’t know why some animals resonate with the public more than others. Why does the puffin draw crowds when other birds barely get a sideways glance? Well, they’re cute. They have those little eye patches, a colorful beak and a goofy demeanor that lends itself to nicknames like the Sea Parrot and the Clown of the Ocean.
Many unusual birds inhabited Eastern Egg Rock but puffins stole the show. The naturalist aboard the boat would point out something like a roseate tern and everyone would respond, ho-hum, yawn, show me another raft of puffins. Quite the fixated crowd. Sure, there was the usual crew of birders with their massive camera lenses that squealed in delight as each new bird species presented itself — and I seem to run into them everywhere nowadays — but it was all-puffins-all-the-time for the remaining ninety percent. That’s not a knock on the birders. Actually I enjoyed the birders more than the puffin fanatics.
Onward we sailed to the shoal just south of Franklin Island for some further wildlife observations. Here we found the harbor seals sunning themselves and paying us no mind.
Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory
View Larger Map
The following day we drove to Fort Knox, not the famous one with all the gold but the one along the Maine coast. It’s another fine example of early 19th Century coastal fortifications that I enjoy so much. This one is a bit different because it was built with locally-quarried granite. Most of the others were made of brick. The army built its defensive position atop a steep hill at the narrows of the Penobscot River. This virtually guaranteed that any passing ship hoping to attack Bangor would be punished severely.
This aerial photograph was taken 437 feet above the surrounding terrain, atop the Penobscot Narrows Observatory which is also one of the two supporting towers for a large suspension bridge. Supposedly this is the tallest public bridge observatory in the Americas and shorter than ones only in Slovakia and Thailand. I can’t confirm that but I can testify that the views are incredible. Fort Knox is the large structure on the near side of the river. The town of Bucksport sits on the opposite bank.
The Single Stone Across the Breakwater – a Very Local Geo-Oddity
I mentioned the Rockland Breakwater in the previous article. If you check it out you will notice a comment from Brian Kliewer, an artist from Rockland, who mentioned one very peculiar aspect of the breakwater. He said, "I’ll bet you didn’t notice the one granite slab that stretches from one side to the other. Did you? Few do. There is only one."
I had to go back and find it.
There it is in the third row. Just as Brian noted, it is indeed a single stone and it marks the only place on the entire breakwater where this occurs. Yes, I walked the entire breakwater again and can confirm that it’s the only one. As a public service I will provide the longitude/latitude coordinates. Simply load the following coordinates into a hand-held GPS: 44.11083 North, 69.08019 West and you’re good to go. You can also click the link and see the approximate spot on a Google Map. This will bring to within about 15-30 feet and is a lot easier than searching nearly a mile of breakwater.