Millions across the country and world will look to the skies Monday to behold what has shaped and inspired science and many religions since the dawn of man.

For the first time in Maine since July 20, 1963, the moon will pass perfectly between the Earth and Sun in a total solar eclipse. Maine’s slice of the celestial phenomena — the 3.5-minute totality — will start at 3:28 for those watching on Maine’s western border and end at 3:35 p.m. for those on Maine’s eastern edge, as the eclipse crosses the top half of the state. The whole eclipse — starting when the moon first begins obscuring the sun — will last about 2.5 hours.

Several communities will be holding events and hosting viewings, and, for many, preparations have been in the works for months. Among the few communities in the total eclipse path, Rangeley is set for drawing the bulk of locals and visitors in western Maine.

Franklin County’s popular winter and summer destination began planning for the eclipse about eight months in advance and included working with state agencies, the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency, public works, fire, police and other local agencies, Town Manager Joe Roach said.

“It’s kind of a typical emergency management exercise,” Roach said. “We have several parades and events in the summer, so we’re kind of using that off-the-shelf toolkit, so to speak.”

But the eclipse will present new challenges since no one really knows what to expect, Roach said. Franklin EMA estimated around 20,000 people would be in and around the area, but this week’s storm means well over a foot of snow will likely be on the ground as people drive to the area, possibly compounding the challenges.


Roach said town and county officials and workers have addressed those potential challenges down to the smallest details. Rangeley will have both of its public restrooms open for use, one in Rangeley proper and the other on the Oquossoc side of Rangeley Lake. Additionally, the Oquossoc outhouses will be open and portable toilets will be available downtown.

Parking lots at Depot and Pleasant streets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, but overnight parking is not allowed, and cemeteries are off limits to all traffic types. Several roads, including Elm, High and Pond streets will be available only to local traffic, and Park Road — where the town’s Fourth of July celebration is held early on July 3 every year — will be blocked to vehicular traffic, but will remain open to foot traffic.

“If people want to set their chairs up down Park Road and view the eclipse from the town park, that will be open and the road will be cleared,” Roach said. “If they want to go snowshoeing on the snow, they’re welcome to do that too, and they’re welcome to make themselves at home there.”

The Stephen A. Bean municipal airport will be open only to air traffic. Eclipse viewers will not be able to park there or access the grounds for a spot to view the eclipse.

“Folks here have been planning for this like it’s July 3,” Lisa Mejorado of Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce said. “We’re all pretty excited.”

The chamber is holding a Shadow of the Sun Festival that started Friday and goes through Monday featuring nearly two dozen events. The Rangeley Friends of the Arts Lakeside Theatre will screen the NASA livestream of the eclipse for $5 a ticket and the Wilhelm Reich Museum and Rangeley Lakes Trail Center will host viewings. Plenty more events ahead of the eclipse and on the day can be found at


Mejorado said many businesses are hosting viewings, some requiring reservations. Accommodations throughout the region are all booked, too, she said, so people can hazard a call to inns, motels, hotels and the like for cancellations, but nothing is guaranteed.

The chamber has a list of viewing spots and event information online at

Jane Van Amberg of the Rangeley Saddleback Inn said Tuesday that there was one cancellation for a room with one queen bed, which was expected to be gone soon.

Sugarloaf’s Charli Sayward said the resort was planning on a three-day bash of its own Friday to Sunday. Like Mejorado, Sayward said available accommodations in the region are few if any.

“The resort is expecting increased visitors with the fresh snow just in time for the solar eclipse Monday,” Sayward said. “We have a full weekend of events planned. Sugarloaf is in the path of totality making it a great spectating location!”

See Sugarloaf’s events at


Lucille Leclair of Lewiston and Enoil Boutot of Auburn, center, watch the Aug. 21, 2017, solar eclipse from the lawn at the Auburn Public Library. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file

The more common route to Rangeley from the Lewiston-Auburn area is Route 4, which brings drivers up through Turner, Livermore, Livermore Falls, Jay, Wilton, Farmington, Strong, Avon, Phillips, Madrid and Sandy River.

Along the way, Jay will host a Great American Eclipse Party from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Monday at French Falls Park on French Falls Lane. A guided eclipse hike will begin at 2:30 p.m. while the moon begins shadowing the sun. The Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon Team will hold demonstrations and activities after the eclipse peaks at 3:31 p.m.

Jay police Chief Richard Caton IV said his department will be closely monitoring traffic Sunday and Monday and will be on the roads in case they’re needed. Caton, hired last week as Rangeley’s interim police chief, said he will be in Rangeley on Monday pitching in with other first responders.

“I haven’t been involved in things that they’re putting on … but I will be out in the community,” Caton said. “The county’s going to be patrolling, and state police, and there’ll be a bunch of units up there to help handle anything that goes on.”

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said the hubbub will mean “all hands on deck” for his department.

“Just about every one of us will be up there (in Rangeley),” Nichols said. “There’s all sorts of things that could happen, but after this week’s weather, especially. Breakdown lanes will be closed from all the snow, so we want to ensure the roads are safe.”


Nichols said his department will split into different areas, specifically those where congestion is typical during high traffic. Deputies will have a presence in other areas such as Eustis and Saddleback Mountain ski area outside Rangeley where many are likely to go to view the eclipse.

“We’re working with AT&T and Verizon, which will have extra cell towers considering some areas that have low coverage,” Nichols said. “Maine State Police will have four to six cruisers around Rangeley, and Maine wardens will be in the area for any hikers who run into trouble trying to find that perfect spot out on the trails.”

In addition to warnings for motorists to drive with caution, Nichols also encouraged property owners to post their land if they don’t want people there.

Rumors swirling that the Maine National Guard will be in the area are false, according to Col. Michael R. Steinbuchel.

“We haven’t received any formal requests to deploy … but if we do get a call, we’re ready to respond and help,” he said.

Several school districts in the eclipse path and on main routes to those areas will be delaying or canceling school due to traffic. Lewiston and Auburn school districts and Regional School Unit 73 schools in Jay and Livermore will all cut school short by a half-day.

For those unable to view the eclipse, the University of Maine at Orono will livestream the eclipse from its high altitude balloon starting at 8 a.m. Monday. The livestream is available at

NASA is also livestreaming the eclipse at

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