The Phippsburg peninsula is bordered by Bath to the north and Popham Beach to the south. In between is a lot of recreation, beauty, good eating and history — including one island’s sad and unusual past.

The peninsula is comprised of 43.9 square miles, of which 15.1 square miles are water. It was home of the Popham Colony in 1607, the first English colony in New England. The ship “Virginia” was built there in 1608 and was perhaps the first and only English ship built in the U.S. I have found two accounts of why the ship was built; one was that the colonists who built Fort Baldwin experienced a lot of illness and death during the harsh winter and built it so they could return to their homeland, England. To read about the other account visit this site: http://www.mainesfirstship.org/history.html .

There were three forts built on the tip of the peninsula: the first one being Fort St. George, which is now an archaeological site (it was only operational for about a year), then Fort Baldwin (which overlooks Fort Popham), and Fort Popham. By the mid- to late-1800s Phippsburg was in the wooden shipbuilding business and there were numerous tidal mills operating. In the early 1900s Popham beach became a tourist attraction and steamboats would carry people down the New Meadows River from Bath to visit.

Phippsburg is rich in history, like most places in Maine, and there is a great museum in the town proper where you can learn more about its past. Today Phippsburg’s main industries are fishing and tourism. Malaga Island sits on the west side of the peninsula and has a story to tell that some feel should never be told, involving a mixed-race community of about 45 people who were reportedly evicted by the state in 1912. The island is now a part of the Freedom Trail, and today is deserted except for a few fisherman who store their equipment there. To learn about its story visit this site: http://www.malagaislandmaine.org/.

The peninsula is home to many trails, scenic drives, beaches, campgrounds and places to eat. You can hike, canoe, swim, camp, kayak, fish, play golf and tennis. Popham Beach State Park is located nearby Fort Popham and offers a great beach for everyone to enjoy, along with picnic areas. Visit this site to learn more: http://www.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/doc/parksearch/index.pl

So escape to Phippsburg and the peninsula it sits on and see all it has to offer.

Phippsburg Historical Society and Museum

Take Parker Head Road opposite the Center Store; the third building on the left is the Phippsburg Historical Society Museum. It is right next to the Albert F. Totman Library.

http://www.phippsburghistorical.com/

Visit this museum and learn about Phippsburg’s rich history. It has numerous collections and artifacts, so plan to spend a couple of hours there. Be advised it is only open from 2 to 4 p.m. weekdays through September.

Fort Baldwin

Off Route 209 on Fort Baldwin Road. Be advised this is a very narrow road.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Baldwin

This fort is built on a hill and has a “fire” tower that overlooks Fort Popham. It is a short 500-foot walk up the hill to the first of three batteries, and well worth it.

Fort Popham

At the end of Route 209, just past Spinney’s Restaurant.

http://www.visitmaine.com/lighthouse/midcoast/fort_popham/

This fort was built in 1861 during the Civil War. It is a circular fort situated at the end of Route 209. Easy access, but parking can be difficult to find on the weekends when it is busiest.

The Lobster House Restaurant

395 Small Point Road

Phippsburg

389-1596

http://www.lobsterhousecoastaljournal.com/

For some really great food you’ll want to stop here. Dorothy Pye began the business in 1964 by baking pies, and it has grown into the business she now operates with a lot of loyal customers.

Hermit Island Campground

6 Hermit Island Road

Route 209 to Route 216 to Small Point area

Phippsburg

443-2101

http://www.hermitisland.com/

If you are looking for a place to go camping you can stop looking. The campground is located on a 255-acre peninsula with 275 campsites. Some of the things you can do include taking guided nature walks, biking, hiking, fishing and more. Reservations are needed, so call ahead.

Head Beach

545 Small Point Road

Phippsburg

389-2985 home (off-season number)

389-1666 office

http://www.headbeach.com/index.html

Not only a campground but one of the best privately owned sand beaches in Maine. For a cost of $5 you can stay all day and enjoy swimming, fishing and other activities.

Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area and Seawall Beach

Located on Morse Mountain Road off Route 216.

http://www.morseriver.com/

This is a well-cared-for 600-acre site that contains Morse Mountain, marshlands, a beach and five rental houses. This is for foot traffic only. It is about a mile-and-a-half hike to Seawall Beach, but well worth the walk. Take a short hike off the trail up the mountain for an amazing view of the marshes, the beach and the islands off the coast. If you haven’t been here, you need to make it a stop, but parking is limited so go early in the day to ensure you get a spot.

Anna’s Water’s Edge Restaurant

75 Black’s Landing Road

Sebasco Estates

www.annaswatersedge.com

This is a great small restaurant in a building that originally processed fish. It is on the wharf and across the New Meadows River from Malaga Island. Stop in for lunch and ask Anna Varian, the owner, about its history.


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