The Star-Herald

Building a torturous tourist trap

Let’s take tourism seriously. Getting people to visit the state of Maine serves two major purposes. It showcases the wonderful and mystical experiences that make the state a great place to live. Two, it keeps money coming into the state. With luck, these visitors will go back praising the unique qualities of sights seen and heard and not worrying about spending the grandkids’ inheritance. Tourism is a good thing.

Maine has a variety of metropolises. There is the big city of Portland, and the modern city of Presque Isle. In between there are many roads to be traveled. Along one such road, Route 11, which transects Aroostook County running from Fort Kent to Benedicta, it is the connection to much of Maine’s western forest land. Unlike the interstate, this road takes a traveler into the universe of simpler times and slower speeds.

Knowles Corner is a major attraction on this highway. To its north are the towns of Masardis and Oxbow. To its south lie Patten and Stacyville. It is a mystery town in that it always seems to disappear. It is there on Route 11.

To help travelers enjoy the wilderness, the State of Maine has build a number of rest areas. These are identified with brown and yellow signs. The signs look nice. One such spot, Cold Brook Rest Area, is a real gem. Traveling south this past week to the big city of Bangor, the peace and serenity of the spot caught my mind’s eye. Approaching from the north on Route 11, the rest area alert sign said to turn left 1,500 feet ahead of the rest area. The rest area is situated on the west side of route 11. This means if you are heading south it will be on the right. When you arrive at the picnic area, the sign tells travelers to turn in points to the east, away from the site. Likewise, headed north, the information sign says that the picnic area is on the right. Across from the entrance to this picnic area are lots of trees and a notable ditch. It has been brought to the attention of the highway department that the signs were set out incorrectly. But there is a chance that you could snap a selfie before the signage gets fixed.  

This brings up terrific idea for increasing tourist traffic. We like to say to visitors, “You can’t get there from here.” Let us relocate the road signs. Fort Kent could put its signs down around Kennebunkport and Portland could put its signs up in Madawaska. Presque Isle and Caribou could swap their signs. Then the state could sponsor a game to connect the signs with the right places.

Taxing consumers who do take selfies would allow Maine to enjoy a few extra dollars and keep our tourism industry on the profitable side.

Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.

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