Dr. Seuss in Wartime

Down East, sometimes spelled Downeast, is a region on the coast of the state of Maine. It has its origins back in sailing ship days. Ships sailing for Maine from Boston faced difficult wind conditions. Boston was the port most concerned with trading with Maine (Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820). The direction of the coast from Boston up to Maine is mostly to the northeast. In the warmer months the prevailing winds blow from the southwest, so a ship sailing to any of the ports in Maine from Boston would be sailing downwind. “Downwind” means sailing in the direction the wind blows. Maine is north and east of Boston, so the voyages came to be known as sailing down east, and the term somehow came to be fastened to part of the coast of Maine. There is no accepted definition of Down East. Some people maintain it includes only the coast from the Penobscot River to the Canadian border, and others include the entire Maine coast, the many islands and part of nearby Canada. The tourism industry uses the wider geographic definition. The attractions include the best known town, Bar Harbor, and especially Acadia National Park. The rugged coastal scenery attracts tourism, the major industry. The days of commercial sailing ships is long past, but recreational sailing is prospering.

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