D = Desert of Maine


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.

Wikipedia - Daderot

Wikipedia – Daderot

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.

Wikipedia - Daderot

Wikipedia – Daderot

The site is has been preserved as a natural curiosity, with a gift shop, a sand museum, and a farm museum.


26 thoughts on “D = Desert of Maine

  1. I am very conscious of my environmental footprint. Although I might not be perfect, but I do try. As an individual, we can do something to help the environment but it made me shudder to think that a family could create a desert and do so much damage to environment. I saw a documentary about the dust storms which spread throughout USA due to poor family practices. It was horrifying. We have a worm farm at home and I haven’t used plastic in the kids lunches for at least 2 years. These are small steps but they do add up.

  2. Some of the coolest deserts in the world are actually known. There’s a desert in British Columbia that we visited once in the summer. That was a lot of fun. There’s also a desert in Japan that has actual camels! They’re imported, of course, but how cool is it that you can go camel riding through the dunes in Japan?

    N J Magas, author

  3. Wow, that was something I never would have guessed. I spent part of a summer out in Biddeford and such beautiful landscape (and mountains that were so impressive)…it would have been great to have seen this “desert” as it makes for a great story. Great history of the land ~ cheers!

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