Jonesport and Beals
Jonesport and Beals are a rough and ready “behind-the-scenery” experience of a DownEast fishing community still populated by generations of lobster fishing families. This is a landscape in action featuring hard-working men and women who provide seafood to the world, including the 2nd highest annual catch of Maine lobster in Maine. Dooryards are piled high with accoutrements of deeply rooted traditions built by generations of salty fishermen – lobster traps, buoys, and boats awaiting their return to sea. Locals are protective of their fishing heritage and way-of-life, but friendly and quick to tell their life story to strangers.
Colonel Beal settled Beals over two centuries ago; residents today are direct Beal descendants, and continue the family name. The most legendary Beal is “Tall Barney,” memorialized in folklore collections, who stood at least 6-feet 6-inches tall and possessed enormous strength. Barney’s demise supposedly involved a feat of superhuman strength; his life is fittingly memorialized by a 7-foot monument on Beals Island. Due to his folklore fame, Tall Barney’s 1858 fishing log is preserved in the Smithsonian collection.
Jonesport began as a worldwide maritime trading center; local families are descendants of mariners lost at sea, and is also known for its legendary characters. During the 1930s, radio personality Phillips Lord created “Seth Parker,” a clergyman and philosopher in Jonesport, inspired by Lord’s own grandfather. Local watering holes and public boat launches are a great place for Byway Travelers to meet witty storytellers carrying on the unique genre of downeast humor, which tends to use sarcasm and irony in the face of life’s challenge, and pokes cheeky fun at “city folk” or “people from away.”
Jonesport was a worldwide maritime trading center; many families are descendants of mariners lost at sea. Demand for non-perishable protein kept families employed in seining and packing sardines for a century. A method was developed to transport live lobsters in smacks with wet wells, which began its rise to second most prolific lobstering port in Maine. Other important international exports include scallops, mussels, clams, and crabs.
Three Downeast Fisheries Trail sites in Jonesport and Beals engage Byway travelers with historic and active fisheries culture. Down East Institute produces juvenile shellfish to replenish the clamming industry, which supports hundreds of Bold Coast families and supplies coveted treats to visitors from around the world; educational tours are offered to the public. The Beals Heritage Center and Jonesport Historical Society maintain historic archives that tell the tale of how Jonesport and Beals evolved into the iconic and thriving downeast lobster fishing community it remains today.
Travelers can camp at the Henry’s Point municipal campground, directly on the banks of Jonesport harbor. Campers can watch fishing boats come and go, and awaken at dawn to roaring boat engines. Byway travelers can launch sea kayaks from several landings in downtown Jonesport; paddling the shoreline of these communities is an immersion in a culture that is two centuries old, yet relatively unchanged.