Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Maine Gazetteer: Mars Hill

Between March 25 and September 18 the first sunlight of the US morning normally hits Mars Hill in northern Maine, just two miles from the border with New Brunswick. Mars Hill isn’t quite as dramatic as Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard; it rises only 1,300 feet above the St. John River valley. It is rounded and lumpish, much more suited to the plain folks of Aroostook County. The views are fine, though, taking in Canada to the east, the great potato fields to the north, and the huge North Woods to the west. And the air whistles with dollars, for early in Maine’s wind power craze, Mars Hill was identified as a prime site. The wind farm now features 28 turbines strung along the top of the hill, producing enough power for some 20,000 homes.
I had mentally prepared myself for the sight of those turbines, a kind of wincing bracing of ethics. I wasn’t prepared for the drive up Route 1, that is, when we stopped on the road south of Mars Hill to view the glory of Mt. Katahdin off to the west, what stuck in the eye was not Katahdin but another wind farm, one I didn’t realize was there. In the view was Stetson, all 55 turbines of it. The sight is holy, or blasphemous, I’m never quite sure which. What easier way to replace the burning of carbon! What better way to justify our lifestyle! What uglier way to ruin a ridge line!

Excerpted from Saving Maine: A Personal Gazetteer


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