A few years ago, a post of “local” place names on MDI showed up on Facebook – the one that stumped most people was the “Algerine Coast”.

Since then I’ve stumbled across mentions of it  around the web from time to time, but “facts” still remain shrouded in mystery, so PLEASE feel free to comment and correct our interpretation and give more insight!

The origin of the name Algerine Coast is one of the debates. It appears to have a geographical connection – as in related to Algeria or Algiers, but was this an Algerian Pirate’s hang out or simply a traveler – let us know (I SO hope there’s a great pirate treasure story associated with it… I’ve heard tales of treasure in Goose Cove).

For the purposes of this post I’m including the Cape Road/ Route 102 loop and immediate environs. It’s a pretty drive on its own with ocean, woods, and mountain views, your chance to enjoy off-the-path Mount Desert Island.



Seal Cove, Town Dock and Picnic Area

This appears to be the epicenter of the definition of the Algerine Coast. The picnic area is  right on the water and has shaded spots for those hot summer days. This is a good spot for sunsets and foggy mornings. In season, there are usually lobster boats and watercraft moored to give picturesque photo opportunities. The dock has a public boat launch. The majority of the land surrounding this area on Cape Road is private, so respect others’ property if you’re exploring.

This area holds a special place in many peoples’ hearts and you’ll find a grave stone and memorial benches to attest to the fact.

Seal Cove is part of the Town of Tremont which was settled in 1762. It was incorporated on June 3, 1848 as Mansel, the name given the island  by John Winthrop’s company of immigrants to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. Two months later, on August 8 it was renamed Tremont, from the French  for three mountains. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for that too!

Seal  Cove was on both sides in the 1780’s. Fishing  and lumber were once again the main industries, though Seal Cove had a sawmill (1790’s) and a grist mill on two streams that emptied into the cove. The sawmill was located near where the bridge on 102 is today, but I haven’t been able to find exact info on the location of the grist mill.

By the late 19th century, the village additionally boasted a post office (still there), a school, a store,  a boat builder, and three blacksmiths! This area is now Ketterlinus Preserve.  A steep-walled tidal gorge, the only one of its kind on Mount Desert Island, through which eels and alewives pass on their way to Seal Cove Pond. The historic area borders the gorge, although the  grist mill, lumber mill store, schoolhouse and shipyard are now grown over by woods. It is managed by The Nature Conservancy, but is left wild.



Now for my pirate dreams…. a shipwreck site was entered onto the Maine Historic Archaeological Sites Inventory in July 2007. The location was on the inter tidal and zone and the site surveyed in 2011. Unfortunately for my pirate dreams, Seal Cove Shipwreck Project wasn’t able to identify the vessel and local lore has it as an abandoned barge. This is pretty recent though, so please tell us more if you were involved with this project or have any tales or knowledge of it!

Seal Cove Auto Museum

Seal Cove Auto Museum is located on Route 102. It houses and amazing collection of Brass Era Automobiles originally collected by Richard Paine. You may have driven past this building, but you really should go in! I remember my first visit when Mr. Paine was still alive and it was just a big old barn full of the coolest stuff. Mr Paine sat by a card table depositing entry fees into coffee can at the entrance. Things have spruced up since then and the museum houses a permanent collection with an exhibit that  changes biannually.

The museum is open daily May through October, but you can visit by appointment all year. In the winter, your best bets will be Monday and Tuesday when there are staff/the “Tuesday Tinkerers” around already or attend a Saturday “Beers and Gears“. You’ll also find all kinds of other events and demo days throughout the year including their annual “Brass Club Speakeasy“, one of the Island’s social highlights.

By the way, anyone rolling their eyes right now, don’t count it out if you aren’t a car geek. This museum is way beyond just grease monkey stuff!



Arts

Seal Cove Pottery & Gallery is located on Kellytown Road (yes, it’s technically before Cape Road!) and well signposted, Seal Cove Pottery features the work of Lisbeth Faulkner and Ed Davies. Their creations are functional works of art. The studio also features other fine crafts and jewelry and even houses a showcase gallery.

The Studio is open daily May through October (early spring and late fall by appointment) and visitors are welcome to observe the creation process as the store is within the working space.

Judy Taylor, a former Artist-in-Residence at Acadia National Park and creator of the  infamous Maine Department of Labor Mural (which is now on display at the Maine State Museum in Augusta), has her studio and gallery on Route 102.

Activities

Boating/Kayaks – we’ve already mentioned the Cape Road Dock, but you can also launch kayaks, canoes and small boats (under 10hp) onto Seal Cove Pond via the Seal Cove Auto Road accesses boat ramp (GPS: 44.291853, -68.39259). This is not a developed boat ramp, so parking is limited and don’t expect any bells and whistles! For year round access, there is also an undeveloped ramp on Route 102 (GPS: 44.292334, -68.402087) just south of the adorable shingled church of St. Andrews by the Lake. This area was donated to Maine Coast Heritage Trust in 2017 to ensure year round public access to the pond. A long term stewardship plan is in the works. If you’re at all nervous about going out on your own, National Park Kayak offers ocean tours in this area.

Biking/Hiking –  Open seasonally, Seal Cove Road is a single track dirt road that  provides allows you to investigate the woodlands, marshes, and natural beauty of this area. The road also allows access to Western Mountain and Seal Pond Cove roads to extend your ride or hike the Western Mountains. Note: this road does allow auto traffic, so keep an eye out for cars.



Alcyon Center

The Alcyon Center is a Spiritual Life Center offering space for personal, focus and  group retreats, retreats, life study, contemplation, spiritual practice, and transformative rest. The space offers lodging, gathering places, quiet spaces, and prayer rooms. Kathryn E. Booth and Joan Jordan Grant are co-founders and directors of The Alcyon Center. As ordained pastors in the United Church of Christ, they bring experience in parish ministry, teaching, intentional spiritual community life, spiritual direction and formation to this retreat ministry. (You can hold a related-to-the-mission event there for a suggested donation, just contact them.)

Exploring this corner of MDI isn’t a dining and shopping experience, so don’t forgot your picnic as you explore the woods, water, roadside cemeteries, churches and undeveloped charm. You might even catch Hodgdon Seafood open in the summer months – if you do, buy your fresh catch and  savor the days exploits as you cook you dinner.

This area captures the quiet and peace of rural Mount Desert Island, providing a respite from our frenetic tourism. You’ll see as many horses and goats as people so take the time to enjoy the quiet!


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