Every summer, for the past 53 years, I have gone to our camp on the Kennebec River. I spent my college years in Waterville. I have climbed Katahdin, skied (not very well) at Sugarloaf, visited the shores of Moosehead Lake, taken the boat to Monhegan Island, explored Acadia National Park, investigated lighthouses along the rocky coast, and looked across Spednic Lake to the Canadian shore. I had not, however, spent more than a pit-stop's worth of time in Bangor. That oversight has been rectified with a little impetus from the Bangor Maine Police Department Facebook page.
My son and I have been following the Facebook page for several months. Why? Well, because the author of the posts, Lieutenant Tim Cotton, is a pretty funny guy. (You can also catch some of his musings on NPR's Car Talk Blog) Most posts are humorous, but serious or thought-provoking topics are also covered, and he always remind us to "Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people's things alone, and be kind to one another."
The mascot of the Bangor Police Department is the Duck of Justice (DOJ). The duck is a stuffed wood duck that Cotton retrieved from the district attorney's trash can. The duck has been featured in many posts, but became rather the worse for wear after much handling. It was recently refurbished and placed in its own glass case in the museum at the police station. After learning that there were DOJ t-shirts, I had to get one for my son. However, he didn't feel right having a DOJ t-shirt without having actually seen the Duck. So, one overcast day, we left our camp in the City of Ships, and made the pilgrimage to the Queen City.
Our first stop was, of course, the police station. We entered the lobby and received a key card to let us in to the Law Enforcement Museum. The museum is very, very small, but is packed with a lot of cool stuff.
The displays presented a history of law enforcement, from old uniforms and call boxes, to weapons and restraints. I was fascinated by the front page headlines of the killing of the FBI's Public Enemy No. 1, Al Brady, in downtown Bangor in 1937.
|British Bobby's uniform and Royal Canadian Mounted Police patches.|
|State Police uniform.|
|The Duck of Justice|
The correct dangle can be tricky to achieve as the duck faces the large plate glass windows. In fact, I hope that the department can find a way to get some shades installed, because I noticed some of the lettering on the exhibits by the window had faded.
So, mission completed. But, you don't drive hours into the heart of Maine and not take in other sights. The next stop was the Bangor Fire Department. We drove right by it on the way to the police department and my son, the firefighter, was hoping to get a tour. Unfortunately, luck was not with us that day. We had seen them go out on a call when we were at the police station. When we stopped back after lunch, they were at training, and when we stopped back again at the end of the day, the office was locked.
|About all we saw at the fire department.|
We headed back out to I-95 and went to lunch at Dysart's. Yes, I am sure there are plenty of great restaurants in downtown Bangor, but Dysart's is iconic. We just had to go.
We were not disappointed. I don't remember exactly what we had for sandwiches, but I do remember my son's eyes lit up when he learned he could get free refills on his farm house fries. The real highlight was dessert. I had a delicious Bumbleberry (blueberries and raspberries) Crisp and he had an Oreo Ice Cream Pie. Yum!
After lunch and our failed attempt at seeing the Fire Station, we next headed over to the Cole Land Transportation Museum. Wow! As much as we loved seeing the Duck of Justice, the transportation museum was the highlight of my son's day.
From the museum website:
Our purpose at the Cole Land Transportation Museum is to collect, preserve, and display (before they disappear forever) a cross section of Maine's land transportation equipment from which this and future generations will gain knowledge of the past.
We also wish to remember, record and display U.S. military memorabilia to forever remind this and future generations of the high price our comrades have paid to protect our freedom. In doing so, we hope to inspire and challenge the young people of today to continue on in the footsteps of pioneers who have built our state and country.
All of the vehicles on display had some connection to Maine. They were arranged on "streets". One street was devoted to snow clearing equipment, two streets to fire trucks (obviously, a favorite of the firefighter I was with), another with farm equipment, and so on. Across the back of the museum they had a locomotive and boxcars!
I knew that the Cole family was involved in trucking, but it wasn't until I saw the old semi's that it hit me. I remembered those trucks!
I can't recommend the Cole Land Transportation Museum enough. It was really wonderful.
I would call our trip to Bangor a success. I am sure there is a lot more to see here, but we were just up for the day. We did not go down to the waterfront and we did not stop and take a picture of the large (can it be otherwise?) Paul Bunyan statue, though we did drive by it.
And before I complete this post, I have to leave you with a link to a fun video on how to properly pronounce Bangor. The Duck of Justice and Tim Cotton have cameos.