Is there really a desert in Maine? Well, yes and no. By all appearances, the forty acres of glacial silt in the middle of the woods in Freeport, Maine looks like desert. It does, however, get plenty of rain and the nearby vegetation is slowly invading the beach-like dunes.
A little over 200 years ago, what is now desert was once the Tuttle farm. Failure to properly rotate crops left the soil too mineral depleted to grow a harvest. The land was then used to graze sheep. Sheep, however, pull grass out by the roots instead of breaking it off like a horse or cow.
With nothing to keep it in place, the soil eroded. Left to the mercy of the wind, the silt continually gets blown around, the landscape constantly evolving through shifting dunes.
This unfortunate case of humans wreaking havoc on the land is now an example of capitalism. For a fee you can take an educational tour of the desert and hike the sandy hills. There’s also a barn museum, gemstone mining, a sands from the world collection, and even a gift shop where you can grab a drink and a souvenir.
I visited the desert on a very cold, very windy day. My impression? While it wasn’t the best spent $10 of my life, I can neither recommend nor discourage a visit. After all, for the rest of my life I’ll be able to say that I’ve been to a desert in Maine – who am I to deny someone else that distinct pleasure?