Fall on the South Bristol Gut

Follow Route 129 out of Damariscotta into the tiny midcoast village of South Bristol, Maine. Soon after you enter the village, you’ll cross a bridge spanning the Gut onto Rutherford Island.  The area is home to one of Maine’s busiest and most authentic lobster fishing fleets. Stop by the South Bristol Co-op around 3 pm to see the lobster boats unload their catch, and while the weather holds, you can also enjoy a freshly steamed lobster out on the deck.

Fall is a great time to visit quintessential Maine villages like South Bristol.  Just before you enter the village you’ll find the Thompson Ice House,  where two annual events help keep an old tradition alive.  In winter, ice is still cut on the ice house pond, much as it was in the days before refrigeration.  Although no longer  shipped to far off places, the old tradition is still celebrated with great blocks of ice cut with hand tools and stored in the ice house. In summer, the ice house hosts an ice cream social serving ice cream chilled with the previous winter’s ice.

From there, watch on the right for the S Road school, built in 1860 and restored to its 1930s appearance. From time to time, docents open the school for an interesting look at what education was like in days gone by.  Across the bridge on Rutherford Island, you’ll find little Union Congregational Church where visitors always receive a warm welcome.

From here, continue on to Christmas Cove. Although bustling in the summer months, the famous  boating area is quieter now, making it a great place to take a leisurely drive and stop now and then for photos of quiet coves and pounding ocean surf. You’ll head home with lots of memories and perhaps a determination to come back in the summer months.

The leaves are just now starting to turn. Hurry, before the snow flies!

A Maine lobster boat, one of many in the South Bristol Gut. Photo (c) Nathaniel Hammond