Continuing the goal of becoming familiar with my new home state, I decided to take the 40 minute ride north to Belfast to spend the day exploring the town. Sometimes you just have to leave the nature trails behind and discover what the local community has to offer. This walk was going to be a wandering around a small city that offers a variety of eclectic art galleries and craft shops.
Belfast seems to have some kind of public art festival every year. Over the years I have seen a number of interesting displays around the streets of this waterfront downtown. From 2000 to 2002, the town held a bear fest, where artists were encouraged to place decorated bear statues along the sidewalks. On another trip to the area, we found a few places that had been “yarn bombed”. Also known as knitting graffiti, this non-sanctioned practice involves knitting covers for public objects such as, lampposts, parking meters, etc. This year the official public arts festival was called “please take a seat”, so there were artistic benches everywhere for visitors to sit and enjoy the views of the town.
As I rambled down towards the river, I soon found a walkway known as the Harbor Walk, a paved walkway running from the Belfast Boathouse on one side of town to a pedestrian footbridge on the other. In recent years, the abandoned sardine processing plant has been removed, replaced by the expansion of the Front Street Shipyard. The trail has been designed to allow pedestrians to stroll along the waterfront, even as they pass along the grounds of a working shipyard.
It wasn’t long before I found myself at the pedestrian bridge, known as the Belfast Armistice Bridge. According to “Best Nature Sites: Midcoast Maine”, this span across the Passagassawaukeag River was formerly a rail bridge. The original structure was built in 1921 and dedicated as a memorial to the local soldiers who served in World War I. It seemed fitting then, that I decided to make this trip on Veterans Day. Half way across the bridge I paused at the bronze plaque commemorating those who gave their lives during the great war. At that moment, a wreath passed under the bridge making its way up the river. When I reached the opposite shore I found a concrete structure with the date 1921 engraved on its base, the remainder perhaps of the original memorial. Nearby was the remnant of another structure, possibly the remains of a rail trestle. Noticing that if I continued on in my current direction I would find myself on Route 1, I turned and made my way back across the river. Returning to the shipyard side of the bridge, I paused to make a few feeble attempts at artistic photography before rewarding myself with a visit to the local quilt store.