August 26, 2010

Et cetera: Only in MAINE

Human ingenuity and natural processes have left weird and entertaining marks on our state.


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Freeport’s Desert of Maine

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Additional Photos Below

While eaters are on the outs with eggs lately, that shouldn't diminish a Mainer's pride over being home to the "World's Largest Non-stick Frying Pan." Hauled out in July during Pittsfield's Egg Festival, the working pan is 10 feet wide and can cook the salmonella out of any of its smaller siblings.

The world's largest rotating Earth (aside, of course, from the actual one) turns on its axis in the DeLorme lobby in Yarmouth. Forty-one feet in diameter, the globe is endearingly known as Eartha and is free to see during the lobby's open hours or through the immense glass windows (it's so big, it's visible from I-295 north).

Huge replicas truly are the ideal tribute to anything -- the Earth, telephones, eyeglasses. But the small stuff is notable too. On the edge of Great Diamond Island, the smallest lighthouse registered by the United States Coast Guard sits watch over Casco Bay. Pocahontas (Echo Point) Light stands only 6 feet tall, but don't use the words "cute" or "adorable" within hearing distance. That lighthouse will toss its nose into the air, tuck its hand into its waistcoat and mutter curses in French for the rest of the night.


Big cities have museums dedicated to things like the fleeting relevance of science or newfangled areas of study such as natural history. But Maine has the first and only Umbrella Cover Museum.

Curator Nancy 3. Hoffman (yes, her middle name is "3.") has a healthy sense of humor about her treasured artifacts, and offers guided tours and the singing of "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella" with accordion accompaniment, according to the museum's website. Umbrella covers currently on display hail from 30 countries, and there's at least one Hoffman pilfered from a dime store.

Music boxes -- more than 5,000 of them -- find a happy musical home at the Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset. The immense collection includes restored musical boxes, player grand pianos and organs, spring-powered phonographs, musical birds, porcelains, furniture, clocks, steins, whistlers and a musical painting. Tours are given from Memorial Day through Halloween, and music boxes can also be purchased. The shop also does repairs.

Moxie inspires smacked lips or grimaces, depending on the drinker. It's no wonder Maine's state beverage now has two museums dedicated to its history and promotion. The small Moxie Museum in Lisbon Falls (home of the Moxie Festival) has been retelling the Moxie story and selling memorabilia for years. Union recently added a Moxie annex to its Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage. The annex's most notable relic: a 33-foot-tall wooden replica of a Moxie bottle that once had a slide and was once used as a summer cottage in New Hampshire.

On the less-tangible side of historic appreciation, the Wilhelm Reich Museum in Rangeley is dedicated to the work and memory of Austrian-born psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich, M.D., and his study of primordial cosmic energy, which he named "orgone." Patients sat inside Reich's "orgone energy accumulators" -- devices that the press called "sex boxes" -- in an effort to glean health benefits, namely a boosted immune system.

No roundup of the weird would be complete without Loren Coleman's International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland. The museum, located beyond the shelves full of wonderfully odd reading material at the Green Hand Bookshop, displays Coleman's monster collection. That is, his collection devoted to so-called monsters like Bigfoot, white-haired Yeti and the Loch Ness monster. The museum includes Sasquatch hair samples and footprint casts, an encased Fiji mermaid and a range of intriguing skulls, replicas and pop-culture memorabilia.


A Map of the Weird

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Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Bangor’s Bunyan

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Portland’s Bigfoot, right, and owner

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Freeport’s Eartha

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Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls

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