Today’s Tourists–Yesterday’s “Rusticators”

“There’s a good reason Maine is known as ‘Vacationland’,” according to the Maine Office of Tourism’s welcoming message on its website. “All the ingredients for a perfect summer vacation are right here, waiting for you to cook up a plan.” Those ingredients include: relaxing on the beach or at the lake, golfing, sailing, shopping and antiquing, eating at fabulous restaurants, and undertaking outdoor adventures like whitewater rafting.

Children swimming at the bathing beach, Blue Hill, 1907. Blue Hill Bay is in the background.

While that marketing message speaks to contemporary out-of-staters with the means to enjoy all those activities, it could just as easily be geared toward the well-healed tourists of yesteryear. These so-called “rusticators” came to Maine in the 19th and 20th centuries to wile away the summers at resorts and inns along the coast. Our “Vacationland” reputation started with them.

A well-researched and heavily illustrated exhibit on this particular brand of old-time tourists leads off the current THIS WEEK AT MHS. What makes this seasonal story even more impressive is that it was created by a student as part of Blue Hill’s participation in the Maine Community Heritage Project during the 2009-2010 school year. Then-senior Josh Sawyer worked closely with team members to unearth captivating photographs of rusticators and the history that surrounded them flocking to the Village’s Parker Point.

We certainly hope to have more than a few modern-day Vacationland seekers flock to MHS this summer. There’s certainly PLENTY to do once they get here, starting this holiday weekend. THIS WEEK has the run-down. Read all about it… then pass it on to those out-of-state friends of yours who just might be rusticators-in-waiting.

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