Main Street (Route 15), Bucksport
A former landing site for mackerel, cod, and other fish, the Bucksport waterfront features a paved walking trail, public fishing pier, public boat ramps, marina, and views of historic Fort Knox, built in 1844 to defend against the British during border disputes. Charter boats may be available for striped bass and other sportfishing. Historic films of Maine fisheries are occasionally on view at the restored Alamo Theater.
207.469.7368 | www.bucksportmaine.
Year-round. Parking. Restrooms. Accessible. Water Access. Interpretive sign.
Poster: A port with a fishing past
This Downeast Fisheries Trail poster, part of the Bucksport waterfront informational kiosk, was created by Maine Sea Grant and NOAA Fisheries to illustrate the fisheries history of Bucksport.
While now Penobscot Bay is a lobstering hotspot, in the 1800s groundfish like cod were landed here in plenty. In his survey of United States fisheries, George Brown Goode of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries found that in 1825, about 20 vessels landed a total 4.4 million pounds of cod and other groundfish at Bucksport. Most of the vessels went to ‘the Bay’ for mackerel after their return from the Grand Banks. Professional curers at Orland dried the fish and shipped it to the Boston market. The vessel fisheries employed about 150 men in Orland and Bucksport; many others worked the shorelines.
Vestiges of the wharves can still be seen from the waterfront. Premier among these were the warehouses and packing sheds of Captain Thomas Nicholson, who in his time madeBucksport famed as the largest fishing port on the Atlantic coast. Nicholson’s schooners, loaded with hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish from the Grand Banks, came up through Penobscot Narrows to admiring and cheering crowds. A load of 625,000 pounds of fish in 1898 was reported to be a record cargo. Nicholson, son of a Scottish immigrant fisherman, became the biggest single supplier of salted cod on the Atlantic coast.
Ongoing efforts to restore sea-run fishes, an integral component of coastal ecosystems, hold promise to bring back the cod that once preyed upon them. www.penobscotriver.org
Sources & Links
Arthur M. Joost, Jr.. 1992. “Shipbuilding and shipping in Bucksport,” pp. 10-23 in 200 Years and Counting the Story of Bucksport (Bucksport Bicentennial Committee). Belfast, ME: J.A. Black Co.
Maine Folklife Center interview with Bucksport Captain Frank Delano about fishing on the Grand Banks.
Maine Folklife Center Penobscot River Commercial Fisheries Project