Monday, October 27, 2014

Bunker Down

From Dave Brigham:

While on a quick trip to Portland, Maine, at the end of the summer (see October 13, 2014, "Portlandia"), we spent a few hours on Peaks Island. Just a short ferry ride from Portland's Old Port, the island is a beautiful respite with wonderful old homes, a few shops and restaurants, an incredible beach filled with an amazing number of cairns, and much more.

Here are some of the cairns.

Along with our hosts, we spent quite a bit of time exploring the dozens and dozens of rock sculptures. We even built a few of our own.

From the beach, we headed to dinner using the golf carts that are ubiquitous on the island. As we passed one great house after another, each with fantastic views of the ocean, I was surprised to see an old military bunker in somebody's front yard.

I didn't get a very good shot, because I wasn't ready and because we were cruising along at a pretty good clip in the golf cart. There are other bunkers and installations around the island, as Peaks was fortified to some degree during World War II. Read this link to find out a bit more about the island's military past, and to see a few photos.

I'd love to explore this little gem in the future, as the island was also once known as the Coney Island of Maine.

Monday, October 13, 2014


From Dave Brigham:

Beth and I took the kids to Portland, Maine, recently via Amtrak's Downeaster train. It's a trip we'd been talking about for quite some time, and while we were only there overnight, we had a lot of fun. We didn't have a car, so we walked quite a bit around the Old Port, a great part of town filled with restaurants, bars, shops and cool buildings.

Here are some rotting pier pilings near the ferry terminal:

This is the former headquarters of the Grand Trunk Railroad (yes, I'll post a video below from Grand Funk Railroad). According to the web site for the Maine Irish Heritage Trail, this building was also once used by companies including H & A Allan Line Steamers, White Star-Dominion Line Steamers, International Mercantile Marine Co. and the Cunard Line.

I love this building, the former Workingmen's Club. According to the Maine Irish Heritage Trail web site, a club "was needed where the longshoremen and railroad workers (the vast majority were Irish) could gather to stay out of the cold and out of the saloons when not working. The Workingmen's Club's nature, it was said, was of temperance and total abstinence. It was built for the 'men of brawn, muscle and industry' who numbered a thousand in 1905, men employed by the Grand Trunk Railroad, the English steamers, and New York & Boston steamship lines."

I think it's great that this sign was kept when this building was rehabbed in 2000. According to, the sign "was painted sometime after 1924, since a photo from that year shows a different style sign. (During the renovation) a request was made to the Historic Preservation Committee to create new window openings on this wall. The request was granted and the windows were placed to avoid a major impact to the sign."

Here's some Grand Funk Railroad: