Catawamteak,” meaning “the great landing,” is what the Abenaki Indians called the early settlement that became Rockland, Maine. Thomaston and Rockland can be bypassed by Route 90, an eight-mile shortcut which I frequently used as a midshipman, but our bus stayed on the main road and stopped to let passengers on and off in both places. At one time Rockland was part of Thomaston, called East Thomaston, but the two towns have long since separated, having very little in common. In the beginning, Rockland developed quickly because of shipbuilding and limestone production. It was, and still is, an important fishing port. Lobsters are the main export and the five-day Maine Lobster Festival is celebrated here annually. The red, three-story brick buildings lining the main street of Rockland, give it the image of an old working town. I have always been impressed by the appearance of these small towns, because to me this is what I had expected Maine to look like.
When I first went through the center of Rockland on the bus, I was impressed by the obvious ties the community had with the sea. The fishing and lobster industry was evident by the number of commercial fishing and lobster boats. Rockland was, and still is, the commercial hub of the mid-coastal region of the state. The local radio station WRKD was an important source of local news and weather reports. This was also the radio station that opened each day’s broadcasting with Hal Lone Pine’s song, recorded on Toronto's Arc Records label: “There’s a winding lane on the Coast of Maine that is wound around my heart....”
The United States Coast Guard still maintains a base in Rockland, which is reassuring to the families of those who go fishing out on the open waters of Penobscot Bay and the Gulf of Maine. Rockland remains the home of the Farnsworth Art Museum, which has an art gallery displaying paintings by Andrew Wyeth, as well as other New England artists.
The Bay Point Hotel that was founded in 1889 had a compelling view of the breakwater and Penobscot Bay. The Victorian style hotel, later known as the Samoset Hotel, had seen better days by 1952 and was closed in 1969. On October 13, 1972, the four-story hotel caught fire in the dining area due to an undetermined cause. Fanned by 20-mile-an-hour north winds, the structure burned to the ground within an hour. However, five years later a new Samoset Resort was founded.