Maine has a desert – bet you never knew that! This is another place that Rhe and Will would likely have taken Jack, just for its sheer uniqueness.
The Desert of Maine is a 40-acre tract of exposed glacial silt (a sand-like substance, but finer-grained than sand) located near the town of Freeport. It’s not a desert in the truest sense of the word, since it receives a lot of precipitation and the surrounding vegetation, largely a pine forest, encroaches on the barren dunes.
It was deposited by continental glaciers (like the ice sheet now covering Antarctica) which probably extended across Maine several times during the Pleistocene Epoch, 1.5 million to 10,000 years ago. The slow-moving glacial ice changed the landscape as it scraped over previously existing mountains and valleys, transporting rock debris for miles. The sand, gravel, and other sediments that cover much of Maine are largely the product of glaciation.
The Desert of Maine originated when the Tuttle family purchased and began farming the site beginning in 1797. Failure to rotate their potato crops, combined with land clearance and followed by overgrazing by sheep, led to erosion of the soil and exposed the dune of glacial silt. The initial small patch of sand gradually spread and overtook the entire farm. The Tuttles abandoned the land in 1919; it was then purchased for $300 by Henry Goldrup, who converted it to a tourist attraction in 1925. The desert contains hundreds of shades of sand, running through the many colored veins in the floor of the desert.
The site is has been preserved as a natural curiosity, with a gift shop, a sand museum, and a farm museum.