Ogunquit’s Miracle Mile

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Shore Road may be the perfect road for hoofing it! Ogunquit, Home to the Marginal Way, the breathtaking shoreside footpath linking Perkins Cove with the village, also possesses one of the most walkable boulevards in Maine. The one mile stretch of Shore Road between the picture perfect (and largely man made) Perkins Cove and Ogunquit’s tony downtown has a way of luring even the most lethargic motorists onto their feet. Colorful daylilies, black eyed Susans and cosmos contrast beautifully with the black pavement, while period streetlights complement the nineteenth-century Capes, grand summer resorts such as the Sparhawk and the Colonial , and street signs that look like they were torn from a history book. Beating the pavement never seemed so pleasurable.
Often billed as Maine’s most walkable town, the street scene complements the natural beauty of the Marginal Way. People do the loop, and Shore Road completes the picture. Village-ocean-village-ocean, round and round it goes. From unmistakable landmarks such as the granite Ogunquit Free Memorial Library and the Victorian Nellie Littlefield House to more subtle sites such as the Gothic-style Methodist Church-turned-gift shop and the circa 1800 Captain Sawyer House that now serves as a t-shirt shop, Shore Road is a boulevard whose surprises can only be enjoyed on foot. You’re never walking away from something-you’re always looking ahead and walking toward something. There have been changes in the past fifty years, but the road has always kept its character.
Indeed, the way that character has evolved since the Post Road first split off from the Portsmouth Road (now Route 1) is precisely what keeps Shore Road interesting even today. Signs of Ogunquit’s working past, present long before artists arrived during the 1890’s and tourists transformed the York County community shortly thereafter, can still be found by those strolling along Shore Road. Wharf Land, for instance, is named for the piers where schooners once unloaded cargo, the only evidence of them remaining is the dolphin post, still visible at low tide at the mouth of the Ogunquit River, where ships moored while waiting for the tide. The foreboding stone wall in front of the Sparhawk Resort, topped with jagged stones originally inlaid to prevent nineteenth century whippersnappers from dawdling, makes most walkers stop and wonder. Even the jarring juxtaposition of the circa-1785 Johnson Littlefield House and the circa-1978 Anchorage by the Sea adds an interesting dimension to Shore Road.
For most people, Shore Road represents more than just a route between Perkins Cove and the village. They respond to the vibe that this stretch of pavement exudes. It’s Americana- It’s the white picket fences- It’s those iron street signs. It just feels like the way things should be. A pleasant summer evening finds the sidewalks of Shore Road packed with walkers. For some, who live just off Shore Road, it’s a way home……

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