Then & Now
Ogunquit meant “Coastal Lagoon” to native Abenaki Indians and was first a village within Wells, Maine settled in 1641. The first sawmill was established in 1686 and shipbuilding developed along the Ogunquit River. Besides constructing schooners and brigs, local shipwrights built the famous “Ogunquit Dory”.
First called “Fish Cove”, fishing was a major livelihood but the cove was unprotected by breakwater from the Atlantic storms. Fisherman had to protect their boats by hauling them ashore each night and the Fish Cove Harbor Association was created. They dug a channel across the land they purchased to connect Fish Cove with Josias River. When the trench was complete….IN ROARED THE OCEAN. It’s erosion helped further widen the passage. The resulting tidewater basin would be called “Perkins Cove” across which spans a manually operated draw footbridge and one of the most photographed in Maine!
The Beach…The People…The Arts
A 3 mile beach of pale sand and dunes form a barrier peninsula and connected to the mainland in 1888 by bridge across the Ogunquit River. The weather-beaten village was discovered by artists and became a popular art colony and tourist area. In 1898 when the Ogunquit Art Colony was established it was not unusual to see artists and fisherman selling their trades at Perkins Cove. To accommodate Summer crowds several seaside hotels and inns were built.
The area is also known for it’s historical trail known as MARGINAL WAY. A 1 1/4 mile paved trail along the coastline from Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Beach. There are benches along the way to linger and enjoy the view. It’s an easy walk and very photographic as well. If you are painter or photographer you will definitely want to pack your easel and paint brushes or camera and enjoy! 2-hour Walking Tours are also available to learn more about the 350 year history of Ogunquit.
Josiah Chase Jr., a conservationist and former state legislator retired to York, Maine and bought a 20 acre strip of land from Perkins Cove to Israel Head. He donated a 1 mile strip to the town of Ogunquit in 1925. Years latter other Ogunquit landowners who also showed their love of Ogunquit donated the other 1/4 mile.
Today, you can stroll the 1 1/4 mile paved path with park benches, fragent flowers in season, ocean breezes and photographic views. The Marginal Way Preservation Fund is a committee that protects and preserves the Marginal Way for future generations. To learn more or to donate to the cause please click on the link above.