Manchester is a small town just south of Augusta with a population of about 2,500 people and about 22 square miles. In many ways, it is a typical Maine town, with at least one notable difference. It was the hometown of a very special little girl who in 1982 made world news.
Samantha Reed Smith was 10 when the United States was in a cold war with Russia. Samantha was worried about a real war, as many people were. She and her mother had read an article about the tension, and Samantha thought it would be a good idea if someone wrote a letter to Russia's new leader, Yuri Andropov. Her mom suggested that she write it.
Andropov not only read her letter, but answered it, and invited Samantha and her parents to the Soviet Union. Samantha gained a lot of attention from both countries and was dubbed a “goodwill ambassador.” Her family not only traveled to the Soviet Union, but was later invited to Japan, where Samantha participated in peace-promoting activities there.
Samantha was later asked to co-star in a television show, Lime Street, but died — along with her father — in a plane crash at the Auburn-Lewiston Airport in 1985 at the age of 13 while they were returning from filming. You can see a statue of Samantha outside the Maine State Museum in Augusta.
To read her letter to Andropov and his answer to her, and also to read the speech she gave in Kobe, Japan, check out this link: http://www.samanthasmith.info/History1.htm
Manchester has other surprises in store as well, so bundle up and go see what this town has to offer.
Ladies Delight Lighthouse
Northern end of Cobbosseecontee Lake
OK, this is technically in Winthrop, but it might as well be Manchester. This unique lighthouse situated in the middle of the lake at its northern end is the only inland lighthouse in Maine. Built in 1908 to help boaters on 9-mile-long Cobbosseecontee Lake, it is now maintained by the Cobbosseecontee Yacht Club. While it is not open to the public, it is a sight to behold and has an interesting history.
918 Western Ave.
This "other" lighthouse is open to the public. Stop in and visit if you are looking for some good wine, or cheese, or a great meal – they offer it all.
81 Puddledock Road
This is a "must see" when you are in Manchester. Open year-round, it not only offers seasonal plants, but classes and activities, and has a large selection of house plants along with everything you could want for your garden. Plus a gift shop. One stop does it all.
The Maine State Museum
230 State St.
It's a few miles north of Manchester, but there you can see the statue of Samantha Smith outside the museum. But make it a point to go inside. There's no better time to go, with current exhibits including: stunning tourmaline crystals and other specimens from Oxford County's Mount Mica; the highly controversial labor mural removed by Gov. Paul LePage from the state's Department of Labor building two years ago; and an exhibit on equally controversial and far more significant Malaga Island titled "Malaga Island, Fragmented Lives."
318 Readfield Road, Rt. 17
They are open from mid-August through spring, or when they run out of apples. This market has many different varieties of apples and other fresh produce, including Madison tomatoes and cheeses from Pineland Farms. They also have a bakery. Eat in or bring it home, but visit before the close of the season.
Allen-Whitney Memorial Forest Trails
Parking at North Manchester Meeting House
143 Scribner Road
http://www.manchester.govoffice2.com and click on "Conservation and Nature Trails"
A 708-acre memorial forest that is owned and managed by the New England Forestry Foundation and provides year-round enjoyment for hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
The Pizza Stone
714 Western Ave.
If you aren't already hungry when you step through the door, you will be when you smell the wonderful aromas inside. Including gluten-free pizza. Known for their crust, robust toppings and barbecue chicken pizza, among other things.