NEWFIELD — It’s getting closer to fall foliage time, an annual incentive for jumping in the car and searching out the most colorful hillsides and valleys in the Northeast. Well, for some folks, simple leaf-peeping is not quite reason enough for a road trip.

Here’s a plan that should satisfy the curiosity of youngsters and fond memories of the older generation. It has several delightful stops along a loop through western Maine and eastern New Hampshire.

The focal point of this easily managed day trip is 19th Century Willowbrook Village. From the Twin Cities, our family recently traveled to Gray and across Route 15 to North Windham, Standish, and Route 11 to Limington, Limerick and Newfield.

Willowbrook is a page out of the past with 34 buildings brimming with wagons, carriages, tools, period musical instruments and home furnishings. Two historic homes are fully open for viewing.

The site covers several acres, and one of the must-see attractions is a working 1894 Armitage Herschell Carousel offering rides daily. It’s in its own octagonal carousel house, and the ride (additional charge) recalls days when it toured Maine’s county fair circuit until 1922. After 55 years of storage, the ride underwent 14 years of detailed restoration before returning to use at Willowbrook in 1991.

The 40-foot-diameter carousel was driven originally by a huge steam boiler; compressed air now provides the propulsion.


The ride is family-friendly these days, but visitors are told it was capable of high speeds that made it an adult-size adventure many years ago.

Robert Schmick, who became the museum director this summer, said, “I get up every morning and can’t wait to get to the museum.” His plans include “a lot more living history.” The museum will soon add a complete machinist shop and a 1930s-era blacksmith shop.

Off-season activities might include a Halloween program, a Christmas event, and even ice harvesting, if conditions allow, Schmick said.

Willowbrook invites leisurely viewing to suit your own pace and interests.


19th Century Willowbrook Village


70 Elm Street

Newfield, ME


Open through October 14

Hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays)



Willowbrook’s buildings include a general store, printing shop, a one-room schoolhouse, and two historic barns. Also in the collection is an extensive carriage and sleigh collection, including an 1849 Concord coach.

Tracing the area’s earliest history, it’s said Newfield was part of a large tract sold in 1668 by Newichawannock Indian Chief Sunday (or Wesumbe) to Francis Small, a Kittery trader. The price was two large Indian blankets, two gallons of rum, two pounds of gunpowder, four pounds of musket balls and 20 strings of beads.

It was Don King, of Topsfield, Mass., who bought an old farm here in 1965 and began renovating and collecting to recreate the 100-plus years of Willowbrook Village history.

There’s no way you can see it all in one day, so Willowbrook definitely deserves return visits.

The museum has a large sandwich and ice cream shop on the premises, but if a local restaurant is desired, there’s the Clipper Merchant Tea House and The Peppermill Restaurant, both in Limerick a short distance before Willowbrook.



The Peppermill Restaurant

171 Washington St, Limerick, ME

(207) 793-2500




Clipper Merchant Tea House

58 Main St, Limerick, ME

(207) 793-3500


After the historic tour of Willowbrook, travelers can drive a short distance west on Route 110 to cross into New Hampshire and head north on Route 153 through the Green Mountain State Forest. This is a beautiful woodland drive with modest elevations as the traveler approaches the White Mountains.


North Conway has a wide choice of eating establishments, as well as a chance to visit the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center. It’s right in town, at routes 302 and 16, and is a fascinating introduction for a trip up Mount Washington at some later date.

Admission is free and the Weather Discovery Center offers hands-on demonstrations of extreme weather, do-it-yourself television weather reporting, and a recreation of the first weather station atop Mount Washington where you experience the mid-winter sights and sounds of what’s called “the world’s worst weather.”

The Weather Discovery Center is also the perfect spot to purchase home weather stations, from basic thermometers to high-tech installations.


The Weather Discovery Center

2779 White Mountain Highway,


North Conway, NH 03860


Located across from the Eastern Slope Inn

Admission is free

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


From North Conway, backtrack on Route 302, and it’s a pleasant early evening drive back to Fryeburg, Bridgton and Naples. If time allows, the causeway in Naples is a great stop for a quick ice cream or a meal at a local restaurant. Route 11, picked up just beyond the Long Lake and Brandy Pond bridge in Naples, takes you home through Mechanic Falls.

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