Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Foreign Cities and Countries of Maine

You don't need your passport to venture into the great state of Maine, but within a few miles, you can visit Peru and Mexico. If you're not into the southern climate, you can head over to Sweden or Norway. If you want fine cuisine and culture, go to Paris or Rome.

Or not.

I did a little research on Maine's
many curiously named places. One scholarly tome---Maine Place Names and the Peopling of Its Towns (1957), by Ava Harriet Chadbourne, ----is presently out of my hands and in some dusty library, but it seems to be the cited authority on the subject. Other than this, I found a few tourist articles.

I'm going to boldly surmise that Maine's odd place names are for many reasons. For one, the early settlers (and later settlers) of Maine had a good sense of humor. Why not name a one horse town of 235 souls after a famous European capital? Two, the early Mainers of the 1600's thru the 1800's --stalwart Yankees indeed, admired the revolutionary quests for independence of many countries in the world at the time.


Oddly enough, many towns were
not named in reference to ethnic background. No French is regularly spoken is Paris, Maine, and very few Mainers of Italian ancestry reside in Verona. And Poland is a spring, not a country. More than likely, the main (Maine) reason for giving towns lofty names was pride. As Mainers & most New Englanders know, any Maine town measures up to any of the greatest of cultures of the world. Finally, the tourists notice these Maine oddities and want to visit, even though they're "people from away."

Maine has other funny places, like Lobster, Maine, (very expected) and Massachusetts Gore (I don't think I want to visit there). Many names are from the native peoples. Try saying Mattamiscontis three times after drinking three beers or seeing three bears, or both. And Jim's Pond, Maine must be an exciting place to visit. Finally, Maine has many gorgeous place names that roll off the tongue. 'Damariscotta' is one of my favorites.

Maine: Let us go now and make our visit:

map is approximate location of towns.....


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maine is a strange, quirky place. I'm glad I don't live there anymore.

Jonathan

Chcgann said...

Maine is a great place, I miss it. Thanks for posting the image of the road sign. Maine's the place to look for someone with "international" experience.

Anonymous said...

One man's "strange and quirky" is another man's normal, or even idyllic! If everyone liked it there, then Maine would be... crowded!

I am a lost, wandering soul from Fairfield who often times misses the strange and quirky - but maybe that's because I used to be one of them!

Johnathan, I sincerely hope you are happier where you are...

Anonymous said...

Why are the names of roads in Maine preceded by the word "The", i.e. "The Puddledock Road" but not streets or avenues?

Anonymous said...

There are other international names of Maine towns, but sometimes with unique pronunciations that confuses tourists. Right next to Damariscotta is Bremen (pronouced "Bree-men" NOT "Brem-en"). And all the way up the coast almost to Canada is Calais (rhymes with palace NOT "Kal-AY").

Anonymous said...

Nice blog post. There are plenty of other UK names such as Leeds, Bristol, York, Oxford and of course, Wales.

Anonymous said...

Jim's pond is awesome! A friend of mine lived there and its a really nice little area tucked away in the woods. Only a couple miles from my house. I had no idea it was its own town until now though haha

Anonymous said...

This is great. The most amusing thing to me being a longtime Mainer is that there is actually a Lobster Maine! I do agree I am pleased to hear that not everyone enjoys Maine... we appreciate tourism it is key to our economy but we like to keep the state to ourselves...tee-hee :-) nice post

Anonymous said...

Oh yes in addition to the previous comment and in response to the road sign comment, in Minot Maine there is a road called jackass annie road lol. It would be much funnier if it was "the" jackass annie road :-)

Cliff said...

Hey, you forgot a few. Check out this blog post on crazy Maine town names:

http://reallyweirdplacenames.blogspot.com/2013/03/maine.html

Anonymous said...

What town is this sign located in?