Maine celebrated 200 years of statehood in 2020, and many historical societies and organizations throughout Lincoln county planned to commemorate the historic event with a county-wide slate of programs. Unfortunately, the pandemic postponed the celebrations, but several organizations stayed the course and re-launched their programs, albeit a year late. The “Lincoln County Pilgrimage” runs from Aug. 15-22 and will feature 20 sites throughout the county. Programs include driving tours, open houses, special exhibits, and interpretive displays.
The idea began in 2019, when Ryan LaRochelle, vice president of the Lincoln County Historical Association began convening meetings with historical societies and organizations across the county to plan for a bicentennial commemoration. Through a series of lively and engaging meetings, the organizations decided to launch a county-wide pilgrimage, which would encourage residents and visitors to tour the numerous historic sites and many hidden gems located throughout the county.
This idea wasn’t entirely new, as some Lincoln County residents may remember when the county celebrated its bicentennial with a similar pilgrimage back in 1960. A brochure found in the association’s archives gave the group its inspiration, and they ran with it. Lincoln County Historical Association and the Lincoln County commissioner’s office received a generous grant from the Maine Bicentennial Commission to help make the pilgrimage possible.
The week’s events will kick off with a “History Fair” at the Railway Village Museum in Boothbay on Sunday, Aug. 15 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors can learn about what participating sites have planned for the week. Some highlights include a display of Lincoln County postcards from the early 20th century on display at the Lincoln County Museum and Old Jail in Wiscasset; historical re-enactors at the Pownalborough Court House in Dresden; open houses at three of Historic New England’s properties – Castle Tucker; the Nickels-Sortwell House, and the recently opened Bowman House; a historical driving tour of Westport Island, and much more.
Visitors are encouraged to keep track of which sites they visit throughout the week using their Pilgrimage Passport. This booklet, which will be available at the kick-off event in Boothbay and at participating sites beginning in early August, includes information about each site along with a passport to collect stamps throughout the week. Those who visit the most sites will be entered into a raffle for a series of bicentennial and historically themed prizes, including a copy of the “Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook,” the “Historical Atlas of Maine” Alan Taylor’s “Liberty Men and Great Proprietors,” gift cards from Lincoln County businesses, and more!
Lincoln County is a truly fascinating place to explore Maine’s history. The association hopes everyone will take advantage of the pilgrimage week to explore some of what the region has to offer.
Participating sites and organizations: Alna Meetinghouse, Centennial Hall, Dresden Historical Society, Head Tide Church, Historic New England: Bowman House, Castle Tucker, Nickels-Sortwell House, Jefferson Historical Society, Lincoln County Historical Association, Pownalborough Court House, Lincoln County Museum and Old Jail, Old Walpole Meetinghouse, Railway Village Museum, S. Road School and Smokehouse, South Bristol Historical Society Museum, South Bristol Union Church, Southport Historical Society & Hendrick’s Hill Museum, Thompson Ice House, Walpole Chapel, Westport Island Driving Tour, and Wiscasset Museum in the Streets.