Friday, September 21, 2012

The only US desert, east of the Mississippi

A true American Conundrum

The Desert of Maine
95 Desert Rd., Freeport ME 04032

DESERT noun \ˈde-zərt\ - arid land with usually sparse vegetation;
such land having a very warm climate and receiving
less than 10 inches of rainfall annually.

Me and my wonderful parents in the middle of the desert.
I was most amazed by the pine trees growing out
of the sand.

Thus, the conundrum begins; see this 400 + acres of desert sand found only 218 miles from my front door is defiantly arid with little to nothing growing on it, BUT… Maine gets like 40+ inches of rain every year.  So how can this be?  Well, 11,000 years ago when the glaciers were moving across this country and making those awesome mountains and stuff, desert sand was DUMPED right in Freeport and was covered over till about 200 years ago when this guy Bill Tuttle bought up this piece of land, moved his house and barn to it and tried farming the place.

Bill was not a great farmer, tired potatoes, tried raising sheep yet all he ended up doing was ruining the shallow land the letting the glacier desert sand pop up.  BUT, Bill was a true American.  When he figured out that if he couldn’t make a living farming, he would make a living by having people pay admission to see his emerging desert!!

Inside the barn you will see the proof that this
sandy desert was really once a working farm.

So what is there now and what do you get for your admission price of $10.50 ($6.75 for kids), well you get a great 30 minute tram tour through some of the coolest land around.  Your narrator will tell you the history of this unusual spot, a little bit of a geology lesson (one that kids can help with, hands on.), you will get to tour through a bit of the surrounding woods, see how nature is battling woods for desert, kids can go hunting for gems that they can keep or you can go hiking on the well marked trails.  You can also spend time creating sand art or mining for gems.

You also get to tour the 1783 barn that was dismantled, move and reassembled board by board and now houses original farm equipment as well as a collection of sand from around the world.  A great building for taking pictures I must say.  There is also a new butterfly conservatory that you can go into (again, bring the camera). 

The Desert of Maine also is a campground (good for campers or tenters) right in the heart of Freeport, around the corner from great shopping and food.  They also have a great gift shop.  This is where I got all of my Maine memorabilia; they sell a little bit of everything.

I have to say that this stop was great for people of all ages, interesting, educational and just plain different.  Defiantly worth the stop.

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