Return to the USA: The North End of Interstate 95

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A hundred million people live near Interstate 95.  It passes through 15 states, and it’s the longest north-south interstate in the highway system.  But it all has to start, and end, somewhere — which makes the northern terminus of I-95, at the Canadian border, seem like an especially remarkable place.  And if you’re an American, reaching this spot is like coming home, even if you’re still thousands of miles away from your house.

Location

The northern terminus of Interstate 95 is located 250 miles north of Portland, Maine, and 120 miles north of Bangor.  It’s very close to the U.S. town of Houlton, and just a few kilometers away from the Canadian town of Woodstock (via New Brunswick 95, a continuation of the interstate).

My Visit

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There it is!  The beginning of Interstate 95 — a non-stop (almost) ribbon of asphalt that continues all the way to Miami.  It all starts here, at the international boundary between the U.S. and Canada.

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The border is marked with a boundary monument — just one of 5,528 such markers along the Canada-U.S. line.

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And there’s the first Interstate 95 shield on the highway’s 1,919-mile path.

I-95 is an almost-complete route from Maine to Florida.  There’s just one gap, in the Philadelphia area.  Work is underway to bridge that gap, and make the highway make sense.  Once it’s done (in 2018, perhaps), that 1,919-mile number may change slightly.

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Shortly before you get to the international line, you have one last chance to stock up on Canadian t-shirts, candy, and liquor.  The Atlantic Travel Centre actually surprised me — I expected a tourist trap with inflated prices, but everything was quite reasonable.  And, with a weak Canadian dollar compared to the U.S. dollar during my visit, everything was even cheaper.  So, I bought a couple of t-shirts and some exotic only-in-Canada candy, then drove towards the border.

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That’s the international checkpoint up ahead.  I quickly learned that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures at the Border Patrol station (which included my roof-mounted Drivelapse cameras).  The agents were nice enough to allow me to re-edit my video clips, to remove any forbidden images, without throwing out the whole files.

With the day dwindling, I got back on the road and drove south, with no stops until I reached…

Howland, ME

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There was absolutely no reason to stop in Howland, Maine.  It’s a very small town, and there isn’t much to see. But, I had been driving for a while, and I needed to get out of the car.  So, I walked around.

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Howland has a small town park…

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… with a tank nestled among some brightly-colored fall foliage.

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Walk across the bridge, and you’re on Coffin Street — a cheerful name, for sure. The bridge crosses the Piscataquis River, just before it flows into the Penobscot River.  There’s a small dam here, which might be quite pretty from the other side, but I wasn’t able to find a better viewpoint.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a look at the drive from Woodstock, New Brunswick, across the border, to Howland, Maine:

The Bottom Line

I could have done much more exploring in this area, if my time hadn’t been so limited.  This area was especially beautiful in early October, thanks to the changing leaves.  It probably would have been quite rewarding to venture off the Interstate onto some back roads, and maybe get a little closer to Mount Katahdin.  But, if you’re in a hurry and you need to stick to I-95, you’ll still see a lot of trees (and not much else).

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