We’ve all seen it. Either in person, or in a book or on a postcard. That iconic road sign that directs motorists to far-flung places including Moscow, Stockholm, Athens and Madrid — Maine, that is. With the corresponding mileage.
One of Maine’s unique and endearing characteristics is its many “foreign” place names, among them Egypt, Canton, Sweden (and New Sweden, not to discriminate), Lisbon, Lebanon and Vienna (but please: vye-ENNA).
I used to be of the idea that there was only one such sign that displayed those many town names, but in recent days I’ve found three such signs, all a bit different, including one that tells you how far it is to places in Maine like Washington, Clinton and Harrison … all presidential names. Who knew?
And if you go to Harrison you’ll find a very tall sign post in the square that will direct you to unique-sounding destinations including Elms Puzzles, Boos Real Estate, Camp Waziyatah and Bogey Land Motel.
And so we’re off on another road trip, to these unforgettable signs and some fun places nearby them. All the signs are easy to get to and in plain sight … as long as you have good directions, which we do. Bring your camera for all those unexpected things you’ll find on the way. That’s the real fun of going on a road trip, right? Not just the destination but the journey. You never know what you’ll find around the next curve in the road.
If you know of other unique road signs, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. And next month: The road trip will be larger than life — we track down those behemoth statues of people and things, such as Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bangor. If you know of other larger-than-life statues or landmarks in your area, let me know.
1 Leach Hill Road
This sign is in town, on the corner of Route 121 and Leach Hill Road in Casco, right across the street from the Casco Grange Hall. The sign faces north so you will only see it if you are traveling south on Route 121. If you are going north turn left onto Leach Hill Road and stop; it’s right there on the corner.
While there, stop in Harrison
One of the presidential names on the sign is this small town at the north end of Long Lake. They have their own sign in the town square listing 30 businesses, towns and places of interest. While in Harrison, stop in at Caswell House Restaurant for some great food and say hi to Mike and Kathy while you’re there.
World Traveler Sign 1
Junction of routes 35 and 5
Lynchville, about a mile north of North Waterford
I ran across this sign many years ago and thought it was the only one in Maine like it. What was I thinking? This one is fairly easy to find and more scenic during the summer when everything is green. My GPS couldn’t locate Lynchville, so if you just follow Route 35 north from North Waterford you’ll find the sign.
While there, stop in Naples
Naples is a bustling town in summer because it is situated on both Long Lake to the north and Bay of Naples to the south. In the summer months take a cruise on the Songo River Queen, a Mississippi River Stern Paddle Boat replica. www.songoriverqueen.net
World Traveler Sign 2
On Route 118, the Lake Road, just west of the town of Norway.
This one was confusing. The online directions stated it was just two miles from the Lynchville sign in North Waterford. Disregard that. It is located on Route 118, right across the street from Lake Pennesseewassee at the Lake Store at Norway Lake. You really can’t miss it. This sign is painted with red lettering instead of the black we see on the others. It may be the original World Traveler Sign seen on postcards.
While there, hit Norway
This is a great town to visit. If you are into historical buildings there are plenty in this town, many of which are featured on a walking tour. The Books N Things store at 430 Main St. is one of the buildings on the tour, starting out as Stone’s Drug Store in 1881. The top floor served as a meeting hall for the Grand Army of the Republic and later the Knights of Pythias. A new walking tour map is expected off the presses in a few weeks and you can pick one up at the store, among other locations.
World Traveler Sign 3
At the intersection of Jones Road and Village Street, on the northwest corner.
This one is tricky to find. It is on Jones Road. If you are going north on Route 32 in South China, look for the sign at the next intersection after you cross Route 202.
Then check out China
This is another town that comes alive in summer. After checking out the sign in South China, drive up Route 202 to China see if you can spot this rusty old truck and its rock companions on the way. People in Maine can get very creative with their yard sculpture. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, don’t miss the China Dine-ah on Route 202 in South China.