To celebrate the publication of the 173-page paperback book “The Names of Maine,” by Brian McCauley, Acadia Press is holding a contest to choose the “Best Place Name in Maine.” The book relates how more than 1,000 towns, cities, rivers, lakes, bays, islands, mountains, and other Maine locales got their names – and what the names mean.

“One of Maine’s greatest charms for visitors and natives alike is the fascinating sound and the even more fascinating origin of the state’s place names,” said McCauley, who is also Acadia Press’s publisher.

Acadia, Alna, Butter Island, Chemquasabamtocook, the Cuckolds, Cupsuptic, Hot Brook Lake, Lazygut Island, Levant, Manana, Monhegan, Moosehead, Mooselookmeguntic, Mount Desert, Paris, Penobscot, Stave Island, Unity – the list goes on and on.

Submitted place names will be judged on the qualities of beauty of sound, unusualness and the most interesting history.

Contest entry forms will be available with book display boxes at more than 350 gift shops, bookstores and other stores statewide. People who enter are asked to nominate a place name and write, in a few words, why it should be considered the “Best Place Name in Maine.”

No book purchase is necessary to participate. The book retails for $12.95.

The winner, to be chosen by the publisher, will receive a $300 spending spree at any Maine store that carries the book. Entries must be received by Jan. 15. Details are available on the entry forms and at Acadia Press’s Web site,

Illustrated with drawings by Matthew Dimock, “The Names of Maine” contains an introduction that outlines how McCauley conducted his research, what the categories of names in Maine are (Native American, describing geographic features, honoring early settlers, transplanted names from Europe, etc.), and how the naming of towns or lakes reflects changes in the English language over time,

McCauley also includes “A Very Short History of Maine.” He sees the book as an entertaining way to learn about Maine. It contains scores of facts about the state’s geography, climate, history, and culture.

“I picture people buying this book, driving home with their kids, and getting their kids interested in Maine’s history by asking them, ‘Do you know how Popham Beach got its name?'” he says. (The president of the first English colony in Maine, in 1607, was Sir George Popham.)

McCauley has been exploring Maine since he was very young. Former publisher of the Christian Science Monitor in Boston, he teaches at a private school in Brookline. His wife has run a summer camp in Maine for many years.

For more information on “The Names of Maine” and the contest, call McCauley at (781) 431-2590; email him at [email protected]; write to Acadia Press, 74 Elmwood Road., Wellesley, MA 02481; or log on to

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