A Little History
Rediscovering Maine’s Forgotten Trail
In the mid 1930’s, Maine was seeking new ways to bring revenue into the state by way of tourism.
1936 was the first year “Vacationland” appeared on license plates. In 1937, the 88th Maine State Legislature passed an act to designate a certain road as the “Pine Tree Trail”. Legislation says it would be a route from Portland to Fort Kent. (Maps & newspapers say Kittery to Fort Kent)
With new road planning after WW2, it would become “Maine’s Forgotten Trail.
One day in 2012, I (Nate) was walking the old rock pile along our woods/yard and came across what looked like an old rusty bent up piece of sheet metal with bullet holes in it. Brushing leaves, rocks & dirt off it and inspecting it further, I realized it was a steel embossed road sign. The sign read "Pine Tree Trail" and had an evergreen tree embossed in the center. It was in such rough shape that I nearly discarded my find but ultimately decided to hang on to it. I stored the sign for years.
During Mud Season (Spring) of 2019, My fiancé Roberta and I, decided to look into the origin of the sign, the route, and the knowledge about it from others. We found that there was a real lack of information available on it.
We went on a mission to bring back the recognition of the route. It has become known as “The Pine Tree Trail Project”
Along with my fiancé Robbie, we invited the entire community to help the search effort in rediscovering the Trail and re-establishing it. It has been like a puzzle, putting all the pieces together.
Pre-covid, We met with former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and he said, “it was still the law of the land" meaning the route was still active and just hadn’t been signed or put on the map for 70+ years. We also met with legislators and Director of Tourism Steve Lyons and they were all excited. Steve said that this Trail would be like "Maine's own Route 66." And then....Covid came and nearly put a halt to things.
By reviving the Trail, it is giving hope to many people in communities along the route and in Maine, aka “The Pine Tree State”.
This is a unique piece of history: How many other Maine road signs have their own image? The Pine Tree Trail sign is one of the very few. This is a one-of-a-kind route, being "Maine's longest trail".
The Taproot of Maine:
The benefits of re-establishing & re-signing the route: Innumerable businesses will once again thrive by the purchase of products and services from the people who will travel the Trail. The Trail can potentially bring in millions of dollars in added revenue to Maine. With the demand for more products and services, job creation will be another added benefit! Representative Jeff Gifford perhaps said it best: "This is a fantastic rural economic revitalization program!"
This year is the 85th year of the Trail's creation so we are celebrating it in style! A "Maine's Pine Tree Trail Community" group page on Facebook has been created to share updates of progress raising funds to re-sign the route with D.O.T. approved signage and to share memories of happenings along its length.
Photo of new old stock 1937 Maine license plates. Notice the original masking on the one plate.
Photo: Road Rte.2/ Pine Tree Trail Molunkus Twp./ Macwahoc Plt. line