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Driving Maine’s Route 1

  • June 16, 2021

The road here is mile upon mile of motels, antique shops, art galleries, restaurants, ice cream stands, and the occasional miniature golf course or theme park. It’s not all honky-tonk: Downtown Kennebunk, for instance, with its dignified old brick and clapboard edifices, whitewashed Unitarian church with ancient graveyard and flag-festooned lampposts, looks like a set for a Hallmark Channel movie. And sprinkled among most towns are signs that people do, in fact, live here year-round, treading water in a rising tide of tourism: offices, supermarkets, a Civil War monument on the lawn of a gas station.

But for the most part, this stretch of Route 1 seems set aside for what Mainers call folks from away. Those who cling to a cherished image of the place gleaned from a childhood visit, or an old film or novel or Winslow Homer painting, might be struck by a green street sign with a yellow appendix that abuts the road in South Portland: The sign reads “Memory Ln.”; the appendix, “Dead End.”

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