Augusta is the easternmost capitol city in the United States, and also the third smallest (only Montpelier, Vermont and Pierre, South Dakota have fewer people). Despite its size, it has one attraction that’s worth stopping for, the Maine State House. And since the rain continued to pour on me, on my drive across the state, I decided the capitol building would provide a nice break from the tiring drive.
I didn’t get a good picture of the State House from the front, but here’s the view from the rear. That triangle is a skylight, that opens up to a tunnel that runs between the capitol building and the State Office Building.
The Maine State House was constructed in 1832, a year after the capitol was moved from Portland to Augusta. The building underwent a major renovation around 1910, which doubled its length, and added a much larger dome.
You’re allowed to wander around freely inside the State House — and you can even peek inside the House Chamber…
…and Senate Chamber, on either end of the building.
You can also step out onto the building’s front porch, on the second floor…
…and enjoy what is most likely the best view in Augusta. Looking east over State Street (US 201), you can see Capitol Park, and just beyond it, the Kennebec River.
On the first floor, you’ll notice a bust of one of Maine’s most respected governors and friend of the environment, Percival Baxter. If you know much about the Appalachian Trail, you probably recognize his name. During Baxter’s term in office, he tried, and failed, to get the state to preserve Mt. Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. After leaving the governorship, Baxter took the effort into his own hands. He bought Mt. Katahdin and the surrounding wilderness, then donated it to the state, with the requirement that it remain a wilderness.
After touring the State House building, I headed into the basement and through that underground tunnel. There are several dioramas depicting Maine’s wildlife. Take a few pictures here, and later you can try to convince your friends that you found these guys while hiking in Acadia.
[tmt_info =””]The Maine State House is located on US 201, State Street, just south of US 202. If you are northbound, turn into the parking lot just before the state house for visitor parking.[/tmt_info]After touring the capitol building, I decided I had no choice but to push on, through the rain, to get to Acadia National Park, and my motel. I took Route 3, which begins in Augusta, and ends on Mt. Desert Island near Bar Harbor. It’s about 100 miles, but it can be a slow drive: two-lanes, small towns, and in my case, bad weather. I arrived on Mt. Desert Island after dark, with the rain still pouring.
This dash-cam time-lapse video shows the drive from Freeport, through Augusta. It ends, just as I’m getting onto Route 3. Trust me, the rest of the drive is so rainy and grey that you don’t want to see it.