This Week in History

This Week in History: The State of Lobsters

Photo by brentdanley via Flickr.

1820 was an eventful year. King George IV took the throne in England, the Venus de Milo was found, Susan B. Anthony and Florence Nightingale were born, Daniel Boone died, and there was a revolt in Guatemala. However, on this date in 1820, there was a momentous event that changed the course of American history: the Missouri Compromise. This compromise essentially outlined where slavery would and would not be allowed in the western territories. In order to maintain the fragile balance between slave states and free, Maine gained statehood as a member of the anti-slavery contingent.

Maine is a land known for its cold winters, delicious lobster, and, as I can personally testify, a rather bloodthirsty swarm of mosquitoes. Pay a visit to Maine and you might find yourself along rocky coastline or pine-filled forests, in populated Portland or on a remote island. There are blueberry fields and microbreweries, and more than a fair few writers have called this easternmost state home.

The Pine Tree State is more than just pretty scenery, fresh seafood, and Stephen King stories, though. It also happens to be home to some impressive – and occasionally odd – museums. So, in honor of Maine’s 191st birthday, here are some of the state’s museums that should be on your “to visit” list…

Portland Museum of Art. Photo by pov_steve via Flickr.

  • Get better acquainted with the state’s history at the Maine State Museum.
  • Despite the fact that 90% of Maine is covered in forest, the water and the seafaring way of life are an integral part of the state’s identity. Learn more about it at the Maine Maritime Museum or the Maine Lighthouse Museum.
  • Speaking of the water, a visit to the Mount Desert Oceanarium is in order. It houses the Maine Lobster Museum and a lobster hatchery.

Photo by shelley ginger via Flickr.

  • Many writers have called Maine home at some point in their careers, including Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Lois Lowry, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Pay homage to the state’s literary past with a visit to the Wadsworth-Longfellow House.
  • When winter lasts as long as it does in Maine, you might as well make the most of it. The Ski Museum of Maine seeks to capture the snowy athletic pursuits through vintage memorabilia and artifacts.
  • Maine started out as an exclave of Massachusetts, which means there is some Revolutionary War history in these parts. Swing by the Burnham Tavern Museum for a dose of tri-cornered hat history.

Photo by dpstyles via Flickr.

  • If you are looking for something off the beaten path, pay a visit to the Umbrella Cover Museum on Peak’s Island.
  • If 600 umbrella covers isn’t obscure enough for you, perhaps a trip to the International Cryptozoology Museum is more your style. Bigfoot, mermaids, and other (mythical) beasts are on display for your enjoyment.

 

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