Ogunquit’s Beautiful Beach

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“When you see the powdery three-mile plus stretch of white sand curving into a backdrop of rugged cliffs, you’ll know instantly why Ogunquit has been drawing such a mélange of fans consistently for so many years. This site the native Indians called “beautiful place by the sea” is suitably named, and the bountiful beach is a special treasure in Maine whose rockbound coastline yields few such vast, open places.” (Author unknown)

Since the building of a bridge over the Ogunquit River to the beach in 1888, visitors have flocked to this little village in southern Maine to enjoy the seemingly endless expanse that lies hidden from easy view by dunes and snaking tidal river separating it from the town and main road.

For many years no one claimed title to or paid taxes on this large land grant. The State of Maine, to which it was ceded in 1820 during the break from Massachusetts, decided to sell Ogunquit Beach to Charles Tibbetts of Somersworth, New Hampshire, for $100,000 with a quitclaim deed, but the village of Ogunquit was given the option to take it by eminent domain. Over the protests of Ogunquit residents, Mr. Tibbetts agreed to pay all the back taxes to the Town of Wells of which Ogunquit was at that time a part.

After a long period of time, house lots eventually began selling at the northern end of the beach in Wells (now known as Moody), and soon Ogunquit residents realized that their lovely beach, long regarded as a public park, was in jeopardy of becoming privately owned and inaccessible. The proposed amusement park slated for the southern section of the beach area spurred them to take drastic action.

Several prominent residents including Roby P. Littlefield, whose ancestors were some of the original settlers, went to the State Legislature in Augusta and pleaded to have the area designated a public park. This was eventually granted, and the town was given the right of eminent domain to acquire the land between the Ogunquit River and the ocean and the power to tax property within its limits. In 1923, Mr. Littlefield was again instrumental in forming the Ogunquit Beach District and served with Philip Hutchins as its first trustees. To finance the $45,000+ cost for gaining the beach area, each taxpayer received a supplemental tax bill, along with the regular property tax, to share in the purchase cost. The beach was acquired and has been maintained ever since as a public park. As of 1938, Ogunquit Beach was one of only two municipally owned beaches in the State of Maine.

Because of its 3 ½ mile length, and the fact that the town continues to guard and oversee its preservation, the beach can be accessed from just three locations: the Main Beach, with its entry from Beach Street in the center of the village; Footbridge Beach, reached from Ocean Street and a lovely arched footbridge for pedestrians only; and Ogunquit North Beach, which abuts Moody Beach from Bourne Avenue in Wells.
It is common to find visitors and residents alike standing awestruck at this magnificent expanse of uncluttered, immaculate soft white sand beach, preserved for future generations to marvel at its beauty.

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One Response to “Ogunquit’s Beautiful Beach”

  1. Ogunquit Tourist Says:

    thanks for writing this great article! Might be worth mentioning there is one other, much less popular way to access the beach – by rowboat or walking across the river at low tide – using the dunes crossover near the Dunes and Colonial Village Resort. Cheers!

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