A Chairlift into the Clouds, a Carousel Ride into the 19th Century & More!

What a weekend! This is a long post loaded with pics and videos. 

Early Saturday morning our first stop on the way to Sunday River for the fall foliage chairlift ride was breakfast at Shipyard Brewhaus in Newry. Wayne ordered the S.O.S. and I ordered the corned beef hash omelette which was delicious. 

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Afterward we stopped at the historic covered bridge as we headed up towards the mountains.

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We had two $5 discount coupons for the chairlift so for the total cost of $20 we got to experience THIS:

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The temps were in the 40s and a very brisk wind was blowing so it was cold yet invigorating!

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One the way home we stopped so I could take some photos in the town of Waterford.

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The now defunct and abandoned Phil’s Mobil gas station has a fascinating working relic.

How is this rusty wheel moving? Wayne said it must be hooked up to electricity but I like the idea that it’s powered by something otherworldly.

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This beautiful old grange hall next to the gas station also appears to be abandoned.

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Across the street is a one-stop-shop for lobsters, hardware and crafts.

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We’d like to spend more time in Waterford in the future. From their website:

Waterford Flats Historic District – sit on a park bench in the village green and look across at the home of Artemus Ward, pen name of Waterford native, Charles F. Brown, who was Mark Twain’s mentor. Step into the Waterford Library, designed by John Calvin Stevens and son, John Howard Stevens. Or envision the ladies sitting on one side of the room facing their men on the other side during town meeting at the Old Town Office and Meeting Hall in Waterford Flats. Of course, the ladies were not allowed to vote and had to keep quiet – surely an impossible task. Twenty-one buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sunday morning we got a late start since we originally planned to simply take an hour drive to a scenic outlook in Limerick followed by some maple ice cream at a new-to-us sugar house in West Newfield. We had no idea that we would be taking a detour into what felt like the Twilight Zone! But first, the views from the scenic outlook:

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We got back on the road and a county sheriff came up from behind and continued to ride closely behind us for a couple of miles. Of course Wayne was then going not even one mile above the speed limit. We were in a pretty remote area and I had visions of a small town sheriff pulling over the city slickers like in Hitchcock’s The Crooked Road.

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We saw a sign for some kind of museum on the right so I said: “Let’s turn here!” and we made a sharp right and into what still feels like a dream.

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The first thing we noted was the gazebo with a die cut black and white print of the band that once played in the park. We figured this was going to be the typical small Maine town historical society museum which is usually housed in a small building with donated relics. You know, like here’s a spinning wheel, some old newspapers, photos of  town founders, signs from defunct businesses, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we wanted to get back on the road to get some maple ice cream! 

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The neighborhood was filled with beautiful antique houses and buildings, and the museum itself looked kind of large. Since we were already there we figured we’d take a peek inside and see if it was worth the price of admission. We could hold off on our maple fix for a few. Well, it turned out that the “neighborhood” is all part of the “museum” which is a living history village! The lady behind the register casually mentioned that the carousel ride would be commencing at 12:30. She said we could take a look at it first to see if we wanted to stay, and the cost to ride the carousel is $5 or $12 per adult for admission to the park including the ride. We both excitedly walked over to the building next door.

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And looked inside…

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What the what! An antique carousel! OK so now we’re getting total Twilight Zone vibes. I mean why haven’t we heard of this place before? Was it real? We hurried back to pay full admission to The 19th Century Curran Village at Newfield.

Wayne and I were overwhelmed by the fact that each and every building was open for exploring and was perfectly curated to be period correct. Since it was almost 12:30 we decided to go back to the carousel. The caretaker gave us an overview of the model, an 1894 Armitage Herschell, once under tents at traveling carnivals and was now housed in the building designed to resemble a tent.

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The original steam engine was also preserved but is now powered by electricity. How cool is that?!

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The ticket office folded so that it could be packed along with the carousel.

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The antique horses are made of wood, have glass eyes and genuine leather harnesses. They were repainted to their original splendor.

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This Victorian era carousel ride–get this–was for adults only. No one under 18 was allowed on it. Kids would have to stand idly by and watch their parents have some fun!

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I would be remiss to leave out ugly facts about otherwise beautiful artifacts and gloss over the past.

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The carousel was painstakingly restored to be as close to the original as possible, although in the antique illustration of the carousel the organ grinder is dressed as a minstrel which is an unfortunate part of American history. I don’t know what the manufacturer intended for the organ grinder on this particular carousel. I think having living history on display in a museum setting is an excellent learning opportunity for kids and adults alike when the goal is educational which is their mission statement:

19th Century Curran Homestead Village at Fields Pond and Newfield is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that collects, preserves and utilizes historic artifacts and buildings for the purpose of exhibition, living history, traditional arts programming and hands-on education.

We need to have honest and sometimes difficult conversations about our past as it truly was, don’t you think?

The horses do not go up and down but rock back and forth. What was most surprising was how FAST this ride was once it got going! All adults on the ride were transported back in time, not just to another era. Look at Wayne smiling like a little boy! Immense expense and passion must have gone into restoring and maintaining something as magical and mechanical as this carousel.

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We walked across the footbridge to the one room school house.

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I was overcome with emotion as I flashed back to watching Little House on the Prairie, one of my favorite TV shows as a kid. It even has a working school bell. The room was filled with the aroma of sweet aged wood.

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I think I’d be a natural at this!

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Hopefully not at this!

As much as I would love to step back in time and be Miss Beadle I would not be OK without having the right to vote or speak out at town meetings. That doesn’t mean that I can’t adore and draw from the aspects of the past that are, in my opinion, worth preserving. It’s how I live my life, as anyone who reads my blog would know based upon my penchant for old things.

We were overwhelmed by how much there was to see. Here are some more photos that capture only about 10% of what we experienced:

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We watched a demonstration of the printing press. I learned that “upper” and “lower” case letters comes from the fact that they once literally came from an upper or lower case.

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The time and expense that went into printing makes me think that “restraint of tongue and pen” was much easier to practice back in the day.

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I prefer indoor plumbing to a chamber pot but otherwise it seems move-in ready!

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Inside the carriage house:

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The village doctor’s home.

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I think it’s real…

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A couple of hours or more had flown by and we needed to get back on the road since we still had chores to do back home and were starving. Sadly we had experienced only about 1/3 of the village so we definitely have to come back next spring! (They are closing for the winter after next weekend).

I’m still processing all that I saw and felt, plus realizing that this gem had remained a secret to us for all the years we’ve lived here. It has motivated me to outdate my home and lifestyle even more but also to appreciate the social progress that does exist today even though we have a long road to practicing kindness as a society, it seems.

Next stop down the road was the  Thurston and Peters Sugar House in West Newfield which is owned and run by a married couple who are retired educators who moved from Vermont.

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They make many shades of maple, each with a number designation. We both had a small maple soft serve which was so delicious! It was around three and we hadn’t eaten lunch so when I finished mine I was still hungry. Debie, who treated us like guests instead of customers, overheard me and said she would simply give us more. “Why not?” she said. “We’re here to enjoy ourselves.” I thought she would give us a small sample size, but…

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She handed both Wayne and then me our own second full cup of maple soft serve. We were touched by her sweet generosity.

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We didn’t leave without buying a beautiful bottle of maple syrup shade #12. We also received free samples of their maple cotton candy!

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All of those tubes behind me are filled with sap in the spring!

I feel so blessed to have so much beauty where I live and to be healthy enough to go out and experience it with Wayne.

2 thoughts on “A Chairlift into the Clouds, a Carousel Ride into the 19th Century & More!

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