The approach of a new year prompts thoughts of the future, but it also speaks to lessons of the past. So for this last Road Trip of the year, we share some local history with you — about the extraordinary Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who has a place not only in the history of Brunswick, but Maine and the nation.

He was born in September of 1828 in the town of Brewer. He went to school and graduated from Bowdoin College, was hired to teach rhetoric there and went on to teach every subject in the curriculum. He could speak in nine languages other than English: Greek, Latin, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic and Syriac.

He volunteered during the Civil War and joined the Union Army. Despite not having any previous experience as an officer, he reached the rank of brigadier general and for his crticial leadership at the battle at Gettysburg he received the Medal of Honor. He commanded the troops at Appomattox, the site of the final engagement of the Confederate Army under General Robert E. Lee before it surrendered.

After returning to Maine, Chamberlain became president of Bowdoin College and served four one-year terms as Maine’s 32nd governor.

Some tidbits about the young Chamberlain: He taught himself to read ancient Greek in order to pass the exams to enter Bowdoin College. While a student at Bowdoin he met Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was the wife of one of the professors, and she, along with other people he met there, made an impression on his life. He would listen to Stowe read chapters from her book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

So let’s take a road trip to Brunswick and check out some points of interest, including, of course, the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum at 161 Park Row. It is only opened seasonally and is closed now, but will re-open in May 2014.

Here are some other things to take in while in the area:

Bowdoin College Art Museum

245 Maine St.


This Art Museum is not to be missed. Open year-round, it has many exhibits continually on display. It is open to the public free of charge, is wheelchair accessible and is located on the quad in the center of campus. Closed Mondays and national holidays. Check online for more information and special exhibits.

Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum

9500 College St.


This is another museum on the Bowdoin College campus and another one not to be missed. Currently there is an exhibit highlighting the art of scrimshaw. “Scrimshaw: Selections from the Peter C. Barnard Collection” can be viewed in the Arctic Museum’s foyer in Hubbard Hall through April 27, 2014, along with three other exhibits.

Scarlet Begonias

16 Station Ave.



Owned by Doug and Colleen Lavallee, this bistro is a family-style restaurant with a full bar open six days a week, closed Sundays. You’ll want to stop in and try some of the offerings. It is next to the Amtrak station, making it even easier for train riders.

Amtrak Downeaster

16 Station Ave.

Jump on the train and go to Freeport for some shopping, or all the way to Boston or any of the stops in between. You can take an early-morning train out and have two returning trains, one around noon and the other around 7 p.m.

Pejepscot Museum & Research Center

159 Park Row


Located next to the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum on Park Row, it is open year-round from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You’ll want to visit this historical house and view the collections — and maybe even do some research while you are there.

Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk

This is a great walk: a 1.25-mile loop that takes you across the historic Swing Bridge over the Androscoggin River. Great to walk anytime of year and links to the Frank J. Wood Bridge (green bridge) to the old mill building at the site of Fort Andros.

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