OGUNQUIT – Beautiful Place By The Sea
2005 Marks The 25TH Anniversary of The Town of OGUNQUIT!
Most people are surprised when they learn that Ogunquit is one of Maine’s newest towns. In 1913, Ogunquit was established as a village corporation within the Town of Wells. The corporation was established as a quasi-municipal government after a dispute between Ogunquit and Wells citizens over whether or not to install streetlights in Ogunquit. After 1913, Ogunquit assumed most of the characteristics and provided most of the services of a municipality. The Town-Village relationship between Wells and Ogunquit, coupled with disputes over tax assessing, cost sharing and local control, generated a long-standing, irreconcilable conflict between the citizens and officials of the two communities. In January 1979, the Ogunquit Board of Overseers unanimously endorsed a plan to separate Ogunquit from Wells.
The headline in the January 10, 1979 York County Coast Star read, “Ogunquit asks divorce from Wells government”. At the annual elections in March 1979, Ogunquit residents voted 412 to 76 in favor of separating from the Town of Wells. In the ensuing months, there were negotiations between Wells and Ogunquit officials, discussions between lawyers for both parties and hearings with the legislative Local and County Government Committee. On October 1, 1979, Ogunquit residents voted 480-94 in favor of separation from the Town of Wells to take effect July 1, 1980. On July 1, 1980, Ogunquit’s independence day was celebrated “with a fabulous fireworks display enjoyed by what must be the largest throng ever assembled in one place in the little village-cum-town”. The Town of Ogunquit 25th Anniversary Committee is planning special events throughout the 2005 season to celebrate “Ogunquit The Town”!
THE MARGINAL WAY In 1923, the magnificent Marginal Way was given as a gift to the Town of Ogunquit by Josiah Chase of York and is now a paved footpath beginning (or ending) in a corner of Oarweed Cove near the harbor, then running for 1 ¼ miles to the marvelous expanse of Ogunquit Beach. Once called “the margin” because of its patterned development along the rocky edge of the cliff, the origin and preservation of this truly precious piece of natural beauty was not the result of far-sighted conservation planning, but of the dealings of a shrewd businessman and some stubborn, persuasive “locals.” This delightful, exhilarating walk meanders by tangled bayberry and bittersweet bushes, gnarled shrubs of fragrant pink and white sea roses, shaded alcoves formed by wind-twisted trees jutting out onto high granite outcroppings, and humbling views of the mighty Atlantic with its varying seasonal moods.
Although the bends and inclines along the way are rather gentle, most walkers will choose one of the thirty memorial benches dotting the path to sit and rest, to contemplate and sometimes to paint the panorama of sea, surf and sky which daily unfolds amid noisy protests from the roiling ocean and screeching gulls. After a freak storm damaged the path in 1991, the Committee to Restore the Marginal Way and a capital fund were established to ensure its continued preservation and maintenance. Each year more than 100,000 people take this scenic path along the rugged cliff line, and, while Maine has several similar ocean walkways, Ogunquit’s Marginal Way is undoubtedly the most unique, the most popular, the most painted and the most beloved.
OGUNQUIT BEACH With the building of a bridge across the Ogunquit River in 1888, visitors began flocking to this magnificent 3½ mile expanse of clean, powdery white sand. Ogunquit residents, soon becoming fearful that their treasured beach would become inaccessible and privately owned with the proposed development of homes and amusement parks, daringly petitioned and pleaded with the State Legislature to cede the area between the Ogunquit River and the ocean to the Town.
This was eventually granted and, Ogunquit Beach, Maine at a cost of some $45,000, the entire area was acquired and designated a public park. As of 1938, Ogunquit’s lovely beach was one of only two municipally owned beaches in the State of Maine. Because of its vast expanses, the town continues to guard, maintain and oversee its preservation and has limited entrance to the beach from just 3 locations: the Main Beach, with access from Beach Street; Footbridge Beach, reached from Ocean Street via a lovely, arched pedestrian bridge, and Ogunquit North Beach abutting Moody Beach and accessed from Bourne Avenue in Wells. It is not uncommon to find visitors and residents alike standing awestruck on this immaculate, uncluttered stretch of silky sand, preserved for future generation to marvel at such beauty.
In the early days of settlement when fishing and shipping were the main means of livelihood, Perkins Cove, or Fish Cove as it was then called, was an integral part of these growing industries. However, at that time it was open to the erratic Atlantic putting ships and land in constant danger from high seas and flood tides. The Fish Cove Association was formed and managed to buy some adjacent bits of land, cut a channel through to the Josias River which flows into the Cove and reconfigure its shape to form the sheltered, calm anchorage now enjoyed by fisherman and boating enthusiasts alike.
Perhaps the best- known feature of Perkins Cove is the unique draw-footbridge which spans the entry to one of the loveliest little harbors on the Maine coast. Manual operation of the bridge is the duty of the Harbormaster, but many a lobsterman or fisherman has performed the task, as well as countless visitors, especially children, who wait anxiously for a high-masted boat to necessitate its raising. Visitors to the Cove can also enjoy the myriad of art galleries, fine specialty shops and boutiques, and the spate of excellent restaurants within sight and sound of the sea. Here one can begin a “trek” on the Marginal Way, hop on a colorful trolley for a leisurely tour of the Town, or just relax and watch entranced as various vignettes unfold in the everyday life of this bustling port.
Maine has few small harbors that show such constant activity and none more picturesque than Perkins Cove – another “gem” in the crown of Ogunquit Village. theater and much more. Ogunquit has so much to offer for those who love to explore. The nearby towns of Kennebunkport, Kittery, Wells and York are all a short drive away. Ogunquit beach is absolutely beautiful! Three miles of white sand and natural dunes. Parking is limited at the beach. We recommend that you enjoy a ride on the famous Trolley. Courtesy of Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce